Nokia Considers Multi-Core Microprocessors "Waste of Battery" on Smartphones

Stephen Elop: Dual-Core, Quad-Core SoCs - Waste of Electricity on Smartphones

by Anton Shilov
04/06/2012 | 10:02 AM

In a bid to enable better applications with richer feature-set, leading-edge makers of smartphones, such as Apple or Samsung Electronics, install dual-core or even quad-core system-on-chips into their devices. By contrast, chief executive officer of Nokia Corp. believes that multi-core SoCs just waste battery life, but not improve devices.


"The so-called dual-core, quad-core mobile phones can only waste batteries, but not be useful for consumers all the time," said Stephen Elop, chief executive officer of Nokia, in an interview with Yangcheng Evening News.

In order to prove his point, Nokia has taken its Blown Away by Lumia competition to China, and offered 1000 yuan ($159 or €120) to those who were able to "beat" the company’s Nokia Lumia 900 smartphones in tasks that were important to contestants (who can choose the tasks themselves). According to Mr. Elop, it never lost to Apple iPhone or Google Android-based smartphones that have SoCs with two or more ARM general-purpose cores, reports UnwiredView web-site.

Given the fact that smartphones powered by multi-core SoCs are on the early stage of development, few applications can take advantage of several cores and not all combinations of operating systems and third-party apps benefit from several ARM cores in general. In many cases, multi-core SoCs means shorter batter life due to inefficient software. Moreover, in a lot of cases Nokia Lumia 900 powered by Qualcomm APQ8055 system on chip with one Scorpion/ARM Cortex-A8 clocked at 1.40GHz will beat multi-core offerings with lower clock-speed simply because software cannot take advantage of modern features, including many cores, NEON floating-point accelerators and so on.

What is important is that operating systems and applications are gradually gaining support for multi-core SoCs, therefore, those smartphones will get better over time and will support richer set of features. By contrast, Nokia's current Lumia's will not. But, in fact, Nokia Lumia smartphones with multi-core SoCs are imminent: once Microsoft releases Windows Phone 8 with support for appropriate chips, Nokia will release Lumia with dual-core or even quad-core microprocessors.