Intel may have just started out with its transition into the fast maturing mobile computing industry, but has already set itself some lofty goals. The company intends to develop a chip with 48 cores meant for tablets to be ready within the next 5 – 10 years. That will be an astounding improvement over the quad core chips that we have at our disposal right now.
The difference between a single-core and multi-core chip is that while the former has to do all of the processing and is at the mercy of the operating system, multi-core processors can share the job on hand between the different cores, which in turn will lead to much better energy efficiency.
“I think the desire to move to more natural interfaces to make the interaction much more human-like is really going to drive the computational requirements,” said Justin Rattner, Intel’s CTO. “Having large numbers of cores to generate very high performance levels is the most energy efficient way to deliver those performance levels.”
Of course, with that many cores at its disposal, the processing power will see a quantum leap, bringing about a landmark change in the way we perceive computers. Currently, the best we have is quad core processors, the technology for which has been achieved within only the last few years. As such, the quest for 48 cores might not be as far reaching as it might seem. Intel CTO Justin Rattner is even more optimistic, claiming the chip could be ready “much sooner” than the 5 – 10 year timeline that is projected right now.
However, the challenge is not just at the hardware level. There is a lot of work to be done on the software front as well. The operating systems have to be modified to make the most of all the cores. The absence of suitably developed software will negate all the benefits that 48 cores can bring.
Right now Intel is a minor player in the mobile computing segment comprising of smartphones and tablet devices. Its low power Atom processors have made it to only a few smartphones and tablets, though that could change drastically in the coming years. While the better known names in this segment, such as ARM and AMD, aren’t expected to just sit back and watch Intel stack up that many cores, it seems Intel has a head start on the technology.