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Dual Cores—Is Anyone Really taking Advantage of Them?

I recently spoke with Kevin Kwang of ZD Net Asia to discuss the state of mobile multi-core processors. I pointed out that while it’s exciting to see powerful, dual-core Snapdragon processors commercially available (in products like the HTC EVO™ 3D and HP TouchPad), if developers aren’t coding their applications with distinct APIs that take advantage of multiple cores, the power of the hardware is often underutilized.

ZDNet Asia: Lack of Software Expertise Dampens Multicore Use

The reality is that this technology trend of multi-cores can be somewhat confusing for most developers. Most are writing downloadable applications, which are only able to take advantage of the HLOS APIs exposed by the platform provider. Most developers are just not exposed to multiple core technology via the standard HLOS API sets that they use every day to build their applications.

Qualcomm recognizes this, and we’re spending a lot of time helping to bridge the gap between what the technology under the hood has the capability of doing with the actual user experiences that developers enable. We want to help expose the power of the system solution, help connect the dots between low-level hardware, high-level software and high-level apps. Qualcomm is focusing on heterogeneous multi processing as opposed to SMP which means the system can be extremely optimized based on the load. Of course this furthers the need for developers to understand how to take advantage of this flexibility. That’s why we spend so much time working with developers to optimize things like multimedia performance today.

For example, Qualcomm and its subsidiary Qualcomm Innovation Center, Inc. (QuIC) are investing more energy into middleware and web application frameworks that distribute loading of heavy tasks like WebKit, V8 and HTML5 features. Since roughly 70% of web pages are images, we have been working to make image decoding in WebKit to be asynchronous and multi-threaded (optimized for dual-core computing). In addition, Qualcomm works closely with many HLOS providers to make sure that effective APIs are being exposed that take advantage of the parallel processing capabilities of multiple cores.

Qualcomm and QuIC are also investing in optimizing LLVM and the relevant runtimes such as Android Renderscript today and longer term for OpenCL and Google’s PNaCL to better take advantage of our multi-core hardware.

The real differentiation for Qualcomm comes in how we enable the developer community to take advantage of our processors. We’re beyond simply marketing the "speeds and feeds" of our hardware specs. Qualcomm’s real differentiation comes in how we’re enabling the community to take advantage of all the possibilities of true mobile computing power.

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