Double your cores, double your Android fun? Maybe not so much.

When it comes to multi-core processors, the general wisdomis that you shouldn’t expect your performance to be increased by a multipleequal to the number of cores; typically speaking, increases are much moremodest. But if you believe Intel, the increases in performance you see when youthrow a multi-core processor into an Android device may be even less than that.

Now, it’s probably important to note that Intel has startedtalking about this at about the same time its new (single core) Medfield Atomprocessor is getting ready to enter the mobile space…so you may want to takeIntel’s pronouncements with a big grain of salt. But if Intel’s correct, itcould explain why a lot of people have been disappointed with the performancelevel of their dual- and quad-core Android devices.

According to Intel, the culprit appears to be non-optimalimplementation of multi-threading inside the Android operating system. You canread some more of the gory details as told by Intel’s Mike Bell, at this postat The Inquirer. But the upshot seems to be that, because Android has troublewith multi-threading, performance not only isn’t improved…in some cases it canactually be worse than it is on an otherwise-similar single-core device.

Of course, as others have pointed out, this could all bemarketing bluster to cover up for the fact that the first devices to ship withthe Medfield processor will be single core devices, which admittedly sounds farless sexy than “dual-core” or “quad-core”. When the first Medfield-powereddevices officially launch (there’s one available in India, but elsewhereMotorola and Lenovo Android devices are due in the second half of 2012).

Of course, it’s possible that part of the problem may behardware-based on certain Android models (Intel didn’t name names), which wouldmake a fix quite problematic for those models.

On the other hand, for Android devices where this problemexists strictly because of softwareconsiderations (either at the Android OS level or manufacturer-specific code),there’s hope for a fix through a firmware update.

If the update schedule for Ice Cream Sandwich on manydevices has been any indication, that means those with this problem willprobably be seeing their fix …oh, let’s say by 2017.


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Sean Carruthers
Sean Carruthers
Sean Carruthers is a freelance writer, video producer and host based in Toronto, Canada. Most recently, he was a Senior Producer at, where he was responsible for the conception, writing, production and editing of a number of web video shows, including Lab Rats, How Do I?, Status Update, The Noob, and more.

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