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The Low-Down On Quad-Core Processors

How fast is fast enough? Well, that’s a trick question actually because the answer is: it can never be fast enough. Humans have always been on the look-out for more ways to do things quicker and with better efficiency. The printing press, the cotton gin, the Ford assembly line, the computer . . . each one built upon the previous invention’s ability to cut costs and shave off the time it takes to perform a given task. Enter the mobile smartphone, humanity’s latest gizmo that’s got the world in a frenzy and everyone jostling about at near light-speed.

The invention of the smartphone brought with it a cosmic shift in how people work, play, and communicate with one another. Of course, the primary use of the ‘cellphone’ is still to juggle phone calls, but our mobile devices are increasingly being utilized for a wide variety of other purposes that go way beyond what phones were originally designed to do. Email, social networking apps, internet browsing, and serious gaming capabilities mean that we have all the information we need at our fingertips and are never far away from breaking news or the latest updates about our friends and family. And with the increased demand comes the necessity for the smartphone to perform even faster . . . and that means a quicker, more efficient processor.

The evolution’s gone as such: from ‘weak’ processors to dual-core processors and now onto the coveted quad-core device that industry folks have been talking about, and the public’s been waiting for. At the moment quad-core’s only available in Androids (Apple still relies on the dual-core and Nokia making good with single-core) and as the name implies, quad-core processors are (SOC) System On a Chip saddled with four CPU’s.

Generally speaking, doubling the number of core processors should double the running speed of applications while exponentially increasing battery life, with increased cores exerting less pressure on the processor, hence more juice remains in the battery. But at this early juncture in the game, the overall efficiency of the quad-core processor approach isn’t quite so cut-and-dry.

With so few devices currently featuring quad-core, it’s hard to tell how it’s really performing. Is it actually meeting consumer expectations? At present, the only real proof of how awesome quad-core processing is (or intends to be) is in the gaming industry, with games taking full advantage of multiple threads. Until more apps are designed that can utilize and handle a quad-core load, the question of what precisely quad-core can deliver is still a question without an efficient answer . . . yet. There’s some app catch-up time that needs to happen first, but once it does, quad-core processing will off and running . . . until the advent of the octo-core of course, which you just know is waiting in th


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