Jan 28 AT 2:02 PM Taylor Wimberly 43 Comments

Quad-core Android phones will be in stores by Christmas

The first dual-core phone just arrived on our doorstep from Korea and U.S. customers will be able to purchase their very own next month. If you are looking to upgrade your current Android phone (or buy your first) in the next couple of months, check the specs and make sure it has a dual-core CPU as the benefits far outweigh anything a single-core phone has to offer.

However, if you just purchased a new Android phone or your carrier contract doesn’t expire for awhile, then you might want to sit tight and wait on the next generation of super chips. Quad-core processors first appeared in desktop PCs back in 2006 and have long been talked about coming to mobile devices, but 2011 is finally the year that you will find one in your phone.

Sony Computer Entertainment is the first company that I know of to announce availability of a quad-core mobile device. Their successor to the PSP, codenamed Next Generation Portable (NGP), will feature a quad-core Cortex-A9 processor with PowerVR SGX543MP4+ GPU. We don’t know which company will actually provide this CPU to Sony, but you can bet that others will also arrive later this year.

Virtually everyone is working on a quad-core CPU (Qualcomm, Samsung, Texas Instruments), but when you look at the Android landscape for 2011 the two semiconductor companies that are most likely to produce one are Freescale and NVIDIA.

Freescale just announced their i.MX 6Quad system-on-a-chip (SoC) which features four Cortex-A9 cores running at 1.2 GHz and an unknown GPU that can process 200 million triangles per second. They say it should be available this year, but we do not know of any handset makers adopting it yet. Freescale is not really a name we know that well, but they currently power many eReaders and navigation systems (like Amazon Kindle, Ford SYNC, HP Photosmart eStation).

A more likely company to deliver the first quad-core CPU that will show up in an Android phone is NVIDIA. Their Tegra 2 processor was the first dual-core CPU and the company has been preaching about the velocity at which they plan to innovate. We know from leaked company slides that Tegra 3 will feature four Cortex-A9 cores running at 1.5 GHz with a GeForce GPU that can deliver 3x the graphics performance of Tegra 2.

Tegra 3 supposedly started sampling in Q4 2010 and is rumored to be announced next month at Mobile World Congress. If NVIDIA reveals Tegra 3 in a couple of weeks, then surely they are already shopping it around to their customers and it could arrive in products by the end of the year.

So yeah. Quad-core Android phones by Christmas. Any takers?

Via: Sony

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • http://Website gazurbeem

    Sure its possible. I’m just wondering if they’ll need a cooling system of some sort. I’m not fully taken into this until they find a great chip or til mid 2012

    • http://Website Greg

      I’m no expert, but I believe that multi-core processors produce less heat – i.e., they’re more efficient. They are able to perform equally (or better) while still remaining cooler due to the individual cores’ clock speeds being lower.

      • http://Website W.

        Mmm, I know that is not true at least for my quad core i7. If you run 1 program, you might be able to distribute some works to multiple core, and reduce load and heat. But if you try to utilize all cores at the same time, you are going to generate more heat than a single core. It’s funny because Norton antivirus kicks in while my machine idles, and will eventually shut the machine down from running at 100% cpu.

        • Derek

          If you have an i7 and it can’t run Norton you have a lot other problems with the pc. An i7 can run crysis with all settings on max in full HD and not have any issues. Now that being said you need to have a descent graphics card and a little bit of ram. On normal day to day use my i7 never goes above about 20%. Chips that are multi core can and usually do run with less heat as well as lower voltage. The new designed chips are also engendered to reduce heat, noise, and power consumption.

        • chris

          you need to sort out ya cooling in your computer then, have a look inside and check for dust, if there is dust clean it out, make sure ya pc case has at least one fan at the front of the case to intake cool air and one fan at the rear near the top or one fan at the top of the case, these fans will blow out the hot air in the case, if this fails then you need a good cpu cooler, the standard intel one isnt very good, maybe it is coverd in dust and needs a clean or it has worked loose, try all the above and im sure this will stop ya pc from shutting down due to over heating problems, and it will be much quieter too as the fans wont be spinning at 100% to try and keep your i7 cool. hope this helps. :)

      • http://Website Daniel

        That’s the best-case scenario, assuming applications that can distribute the load uniformly, or users performing several low-power tasks at the same time. Of course, nVidia and others will always insist on this point, but in reality I don’t expect it to happen nearly as often as they want you to believe.

      • http://Website Greg

        You guys might be right. But still, going multi-core is a more logical step than just continuing to increase the clock speed of a single-core chip. Yeah, these may run hotter than chips we’re using today, but I’m sure they run a lot cooler than an performance-equivalent single-core chip.

      • http://Website russ89

        The quad cores will run just fine with next to nothing for heating issues. This is due to die shrinks. The smaller you make things the less electricity it takes to power it and less friction, thus more powerful processors using less power and creating less heat.
        The smallest PC Processor currently is 32nm (Nanometers)
        Most consumers are running around 45nm or higher like the Corei7 Quad stated above.

        Link to Intel’s Die Shrinking History: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intel_Tick-Tock
        Don’t believe me, look it up yourself. Google: “benefits of die shrinking for microprocessors”

        By 2016 -2017 we’re looking at 10mn. This means by then we should be seeing 8 core phones and 32 core Desktops by 2016. This of course is by Intel’s standards.

  • http://Website braaain

    Just in time for my contract to run out! My Cliq is already a dinosaur

    • http://Website Nathan T.

      Same here, my Droid just isn’t cutting it anymore. I’ll use my last “New every two” on one of these quad-core phones.

  • Gone

    oooh I can’t keep up!!! so many phones, so many phone!!!

  • http://zalzalaweb.com/jens anakin78z

    Assuming Gingerbread lands soon on the Nexus One, I think I can hold out until then.
    Gotta love how fast things are progressing.

  • http://Website Storm14k

    The first picture that popped into my mind when I rear the title was Steve Jobs saying “What?!?!??!! this changes everything……AGAIN!!!”

    • http://Website bray424

      A more likely scenario would be him and Apple attempting to patent “Multi-Core Processor for use in mobile devices with more cores than the number of letters in the word “Core””.

  • http://Website laser

    Yes, because our current single core phones are being pushed to the limit with all those demanding apps and games the Android app market is offering…

    Don’t really see what’s the point of all this power if there’s no way to use/feel it in every day tasks and activities on the phone. This is why I just got my Nexus S when it came out, instead of waiting for the more powerful phone coming out next month.

    • http://Website Blazer

      The point of the increasing power is not to allow you to do the things you currently do faster. It’s to allow you to do more things. The nVidia quadcore chip performs better than a Core2Duo. With 1-2 GB of RAM, that means a smartphone could run as a full-fledged computer. You could run Microsoft Ofice on it, and other full programs, instead of just small, made-for-phone apps. Then you could connect things like a monitor and keyboard and mouse for full computer functionality off of your phone.

  • http://Website Dev1359

    That PSP successor is one beastly looking device. I wonder how Sony is gonna price it to compete with Nintendo considering it’ll be just as powerful, if not more powerful than the $600 quad-core smartphones that’ll be out this winter.

  • http://Website Ivan

    Ok everyone is excited about multiple cores, but when will they add multiple threads. Its cool having more cores, but you also need more threads.

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      Honeycomb adds support for multicore processors. Android 3.0 is optimized to run on either single- or dual-core processors, so that applications run with the best possible performance.

      • http://Website Ivan

        That still did not answer my question. I know that Honeycomb supports multiple course right out the box. But if you want a real better experience, they need to add more threads per core. A dual core cpu should have 2 threads per core, which makes it a total of 4 threads. Also what about multiple GPU cores? I know you dont know the answer to this, but if all they are adding is one more core, while still on the same semiconductor technology as before, then I am not impressed.

        • http://Website metafor

          It’s a bit difficult to define a “core” for GPU’s. The SGX 543MP4 inside the PSP2, for instance, is technically quad-core. But GPU’s are inherently massively parallel processors to begin with an don’t really have the same serial-instruction-stream programming model that CPU’s do. So it’s a bit difficult to say that there’s really any difference between a really really big GPU with 8 parallel pipelines and a quad-GPU with 2 parallel pipelines each. At that point, it’s just semantics.

          As for phones, Tegra 3 would probably the only one I can think of that may fit into a smartphone package. Quad-A9 + 8-way GPU (a rough guess considering the performance claims) probably isn’t very viable at 45nm and IIRC, Tegra 3 is the only quad announced so far at 28nm.

  • http://Website UniqueNate

    I don’t see it happening. Maybe something rumored but I think it’ll shine in 2012. It’ll be half way through the year and some companies haven’t even shown their dual core. It’s one thing to show them then months later to have them in our hands. I say something like a phone will be leaked with quad core but officially ready early next year. I love the progression but it sounds to fast for their own good.

    Think about it Taylor, your getting a dual core next month and later in the year your most likely getting a quad core. What if that’s on another carrier? And with these crazy plan changes carriers are coming up with.

  • http://Website Garrett

    Just in time for the average OG Droid owner’s contract to expire.
    And don’t say you wont need the extra power. If there’s any indication of the power you’ll need it’s coming from the average phone getting bogged down by games such as gun bros or dungeon defenders. If you can get a phone that stays in top ofbthings for the totally of a two year contract then by all means you should jump on it versus geting the phone you can’t wait to upgrade six months later.

  • http://Website joe

    Just another reason why I’m avoiding the Piece of Shit Atrix.

    Motorola can kiss my ass for locking down the bootloader, after all the shit they did to me when I owned the Cliq.

  • http://www.androidsfinest.com Jorge

    My contract is up in June but I can get a full discount in April! I don’t know if I’ll be able to resist a quad core over a dual core for 8 months. Man I love choices, android ftw.

  • http://Website Mark

    Hey, Taylor. NGP’s CPU is built by British company ARM while the GPU – SGX543MP4+ quad-core – is built by Imagination Technologies, another British company based in Hertfordshire.

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      ARM is just an IP company. They just design the architecture, not actually produce the chips.

      • http://Website Ivan

        Yeah ARM just designs the architecture like Taylor said, and they license it to different manufacturers like HTC, Motorola, Apple, Samsuck(lol). Pretty much everyone.

  • http://Website dmass

    Are you serious with this nonsense again? I guess I’m thinking in the intuitive linear view of technology, but I don’t see it happening. The curve hasn’t reached the knee.

    Also, since you don’t know what Freescale is, they’re the spun off chip division of Motorola.

  • http://Website ACR

    I am looking forward for 8 cores or 12 though.

  • http://Website TechnoSTIG

    I just want hardware acceleration, that will give me more satisfaction than x amount of cores.

  • http://Website androidncanada

    Why do I need quad core? I can see it being a “nice to have” but do I really need it? Today, quad core is definitely overkill. I am glad their is innovation, but I would like to see more product features that justify the quad core.

  • http://Website Cree

    Don’t phone manufacturers realize that its not the hardware that makes the phone, its the software. I understand games are getting larger with larger storage and memory requirements, but games on the iOS can render graphics smoothly even with a 1Ghz processor. This is like going back to A/V receivers that belt out 100×5, but in reality the RMS in 50×5. Its the specs to capture the attention of the consumer. Android is evolving, but not the right way. I am huge fan of change and improvement, but lets see dramatic speed increases in the OS first. Let’s integrate more features within the OS rather than boost up hardware specs.

    By the way…I am a Droid 1 Owner, looking at the HTC TB…


    • http://Website dmass

      It is hard for software retarded hardware manufacturers to build quality software. I guess they could build their own OS based on Android without Google’s blessing, but that would likely a) turn out shit and b) not have the Market.

      • http://Website Cree

        It’s about attracting consumer interests. Iphone is gaining a ton of momentum with the acquisition of Verizon. Android handset manufacturer’s are trying to differentiate themselves to Apple by releasing handsets that have outlandish specs, but seem to perform as good as the current iPhone. Dual cores aren’t necessary for gaming right now. The biggest concerns that I have are big display, long battery life, and smooth OS. The Iphone is lacking in one area. That is screen size. However, Android technology has evolved, but the improvement in hardware specs aren’t something we need as Android owners. I want a creamy, smooth OS that doesn’t scream dual core or quad core. Android if you are listening…..Fix the OS bugs before adding more horsepower….!!!!!!


  • http://Website thehype

    I have not even seen a dual cores in stores yet!! haha Ok in that case hexacore phones to hit stores in 2nd quarter 2012! …………

  • http://Website AceoStar

    I think this is perfect timing really. All of us who are about to buy high end smart phones in feb-april should be buying 1 year contracts. If the quad cores drop around Christmas, we’ll be getting a great upgrade when the contract runs up. I’m stoaked to have waited even with quad cores, I’ll gladly pay 250 in a year to upgrade :D

  • http://Website Darkseider

    This is just way too cool. Reminds me of the Pentium wars all over again. What’s even better is that these units running Android in a phone or tablet will also have desktop/laptop brethren running Windows 8 on quad core Cortex A-9 or possibly Cortex A-15′s. These are exciting times indeed!

  • http://Website NotGoingToHappen

    Remember all the tegra 2 hype at ces 2010? Christmas came and went without any dual core phones being released. I don’t expect to see quad core phones this year.

  • http://Website lesthat

    so tegra 3 will be most powerfull chip for handhelds on market ngp haw the same quad core cpu but graphic can do only 133milion polygons they write that tegra3 will hawe 3xtegra2 preformance so 78×3 234polygons 234milions polygons that much can do tegra3

  • http://Website Darth Vader

    well as for our technology today is pretty high tech, there is only one problem: PRICE.

  • http://Website Dannyjayfuller

    Somehow, I doubt it. If it’s true,however, it’s just a show of how quickly tech evolves. Personally, I’m snapping up a dual core EVO 3D or SGS2 while the gettin’s good. It’ll do me just fine until upgrade time.

  • http://Website Tech

    I just wonder how long the battery would last on a quad core behemoth especially when manufacturers are trying to shrink the size and thickness of smartphones.