Published in PC Hardware

Big.LITTLE is a big trade-off

by on30 April 2013

Thinks Qualcomm marketing boss

We asked the marketing boss of Qualcomm about his take on ARM’s Big.LITTLE concept he was very clear that this is not the road Qualcomm is willing to take. Tim McDonough, Vice President of Marketing, Qualcomm, said the company still believes that their scalable processors are the better way.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 scales between 300MHz and 1.7GHz and even higher, with phones like the Galaxy S4. Tim believes that this is better than having a few slow cores and a few fast cores. So far ARM has managed to get a number of big.LITTLE licensees, including Samsung. Nvidia is somewhere in the middle, as its chips feature one slow core and four fast ones, but ARM wants chip manufacturers to licence designs with multiple Cortex A15 and Cortex A7 cores.

Tim calls Big.LITTLE trade-off, as you have to choose if you want to use one block of cores for energy saving or performance. From our own experience here at Fudzilla, all modern high-end SoCs get really hot when running benchmarks in high performance mode, but this is just a sign of things to come, as we transition to high performance ARM cores with next generation graphics.

Of course, Samsung believes in Big.LITTLE and its Exynos 5 Octa core chip is the first step in that direction, but Qualcomm and Nvidia believe that custom ARM cores are the key to the future. Qualcomm already has its Krait 400 core and it has started the custom core trend with last generation Snapdragon processors. Nvidia plans to join the trend in the coming years, and let’s not forget Apple’s A6 series, which also uses custom cores.

Last modified on 02 May 2013
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