LONDON -- MediaTek Inc. is touting an upcoming eight-core processor as "True Octa," because it does not restrict users to operating ARM processor cores as big-little pairs, where only one core in a pair can be operating at any time.
An eight-core processor has been expected from MediaTek since news came out in November that it was working on the MT6599, an ARM-based processor for a ZTE smartphone. (See: MediaTek reportedly has eight-core apps processor.) MediaTek has now produced a YouTube video that extols the virtue of being able to power all eight cores in an application processor at the same time. "MediaTek is the first adopter of true octa-core technology for mobile SoCs," the company says in the video, which does not provide any product details.
Samsung has produced a series of Exynos 5 Octa processors that use the "cluster migration" approach that links four Cortex-A15 cores with four Cortex-A7 cores, but only up to four of the cores can operate at the same time. Some of Samsung's Galaxy S4 phones are powered by the Exynos 5 Octa, but arguments have arisen over whether Samsung should call this an octa- or quad-core processor.
Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 series application processor is a quad-core processor based on Qualcomm's Krait core. Qualcomm senior vice president Anand Chandrasekher said in a roundtable last month that an application processor strategy simply based on amassing cores is "dumb."
MediaTek's website does not have any prominent reference to specific octa-core part numbers, architectures, or cores. A Gizchina report cited the soon-to-launch MT6592 capable of 2GHz clock frequency. This device has been reported to be based on eight Cortex-A7 cores, which could give the processor an area and cost advantage over big-little cores. (See: How ARM's Cortex-A7 Beats the A15.) It remains unclear whether MediaTek is adopting big-little cores and operating them in a global task scheduling manner, or whether it is simply laying down eight processor cores.