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At a time when the ranks of quad-core Android devices are swelling rapidly, Intel is trying to find its feet in this highly competitive market with its single-core “Medfield” Atom chip. But Mike Bell, GM of Intel's Mobile and Communications Group, does not view Medfield’s current lack of multiple CPU cores as a cause for concern.
In a recent interview with The Inquirer, Bell was critical of the way Android handles multiple cores: "If you are in a non-power constrained case, I think multiple cores make a lot of sense because you can run the cores full out, you can actually heavily load them and/or if the operating system has a good thread scheduler. A lot of stuff we are dealing with, thread scheduling and thread affinity, isn't there yet and on top of that, largely when the operating system goes to do a single task, a lot of other stuff stops. So as we move to multiple cores, we're actually putting a lot of investment into software to fix the scheduler and fix the threading so if we do multi-core products it actually takes advantage of it."
He then proceeded to criticize rival SoC vendors, who he feels haven’t done enough to offset this problem and are therefore equally culpable. In fact, he thinks “the lack of software effort by some of the folks who have done their hardware implementation is a bigger disadvantage than anything else.”
He feels multi-core mobile devices currently on the market make little sense considering their huge thermal and power footprints. Although he seems to have a point, power efficiency has never been Intel’s strong point either when it comes to the mobile market. With Medfield Intel has made a decent start, but it still needs to do a lot more if it wants to turn the tables on its “Arm-ed” rivals.