The introduction of the EVO 3D was the first glasses-free 3D phone from Sprint but it also included the first dual-core processor from industry giant Qualcomm and it is really pushing the fact that is uses an asynchronous architecture where each core can run at independent frequencies to conserve of battery life. NVIDIA has the only dual-core mobile processor actually out on the market and it said that it considered an asynchronous architecture but the hits to performance weren’t worth the extra juice.
NVIDIA said there are a few reasons why it chose to not go with an asynchronous architecture and the performance issue was the main one. The company said that you’re looking at a 10-15% performance hit by going to the asynchronous architecture, essentially saying that the Tegra 2 can outperform Qualcomm’s latest dual-core processor.
This performance drop is about cache coherency, as the asynchronous architecture can lead to some clock cycle delays in each core. Additionally, the operating systems like Android and many apps aren’t set up for an asynchronous architecture.
I spoke with Leon Farasati, senior product manager at Qualcomm, and he said that NVIDIA is just spreading some FUD (Fear, uncertainty and doubt). He said that the two 1.5 GHz cores are faster than the 1 GHz cores on the Tegra 2 and that some of NVDIA’s performance measurements have been tailored to make its products look better.
Farasati said that publications and blogs like IntoMobile will be receiving developer units of its dual-core processor in order to properly benchmark these. He said that some may be surprised to see Qualcomm’s GPU outperforming the Tegra 2.
The argument could also be made that Qualcomm when with this setup in order to save on power, as it doesn’t matter how cool your smartphone is if you don’t have juice. In my review of the Tegra 2-packing Motorola Atrix 4G, I got a solid 7-8 hours out of the device with heavy usage. That’s about all you can expect out of a modern smartphone but maybe the EVO 3D will surprise us.
As an upstart in the mobile industry, NVIDIA is moving at a lightning-fast pace. The company is already working on a quad-core processor called Kal-El and this should be in a retail product as early as August.
I asked the company if it felt like it may be moving too fast – the dual-core Tegra 2 products are really just starting to hit the market – but NVIDIA is used to a different pace and it plans to have a new version of Tegra out each year.
I’m happy about that because I love to hear the trash talking between Qualcomm and NVDIA and, more importantly, the competition between the two will likely lead to better products for us.