Intel wants a 48-core mobile processor

Intel may be having some difficulty eking out a viable x86 mobile market share, but that hasn’t stopped Santa Clara from hyping a theoretical 48-core processor for smartphones and tablets.

As expected, it will likely be at least 5-10 years until such a chip hits the market. However, as analyst Rob Enderle notes, having 48 separate cores on a single piece of silicon would certainly represent a significant technological advance.

“You move to a massive multi-core model and you’ll have massive multi-tasking. You can have some big apps running and nothing will steal performance from each other,” he told ComputerWorld. 

”You get that huge range of performance across the spectrum and you get the benefits of things you can’t even run on a PC now. Plus you’d get a potential low battery drain.”

Enderle also emphasized that it would be absolutely critical for software and apps to keep with hardware advances.

“There aren’t many apps now to light up eight cores, let alone lighting up 48,” he said. “Even on the PC now, it’s really unusual in an 8-core machine to light up more than six cores. Writing for massive multi-core… Well, we haven’t even really started to do that yet.”

Meanwhile, Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights and Strategy, said such an SoC would redefine the concept of computing. 

“My one compute device is in my hand and when I walk into my office, it automatically and wireless connects to my 30-inch display. I have touch, a keyboard, a mouse and voice to interact with it. It changes the whole concept of what it is and what it can do.

“[Remember], 5-10 years is somewhat of an eternity in technology time. If we’re going to have this technology in five to 10 years, [the smartphone] won’t have just one camera. It would have two to three cameras that are always on. It could build a three-dimensional map of what it’s looking at and do object recognition. You could finally do things that take way too much processing power today,” he added.