Tablet Market Primed for Quad-Core: Latest ASUS device announced with NVIDIA Tegra 3

POSTED BY Global Administrator
Not resting on its laurels after winning Stuff magazine’s gadget of the year, ahead of Apple’s iPad 2, ASUS has announced an enhanced version of its tablet/notebook hybrid, the Transformer. The Transformer Prime (a name which may sound more like an action figure than a personal computer) is the first device to carry NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 – the world’s first mobile quad-core processor. If 2010 was the year of the 1 GHz processor in mobile, and 2011 was dual-core, it was inevitable that as we head into 2012, the quad-core revolution would start to roll into action. For those not in the know, multi-core processors are the in-thing now in computing. Essentially what it means is that, within the CPU, there are multiple processors. While many consumers will still be lingering at the dual-core stage with notebooks and desktops, mobile computing is rapidly advancing. What are the benefits of multi-core? Well, “two heads are better than one” as they say, so why not four? On mobile devices, multi-tasking is a common occurrence, and if you’re instant messaging, you want your music to continue playing smoothly in the background, while a news app continues to retrieve the latest stories in the background ready to pop-up when required. So, multi-core is better for multi-tasking, but it’s also better for your battery. Rather than having one core running at 4 GHz, you have four running at 1 GHz, for example. And with a lower clock frequency (in GHz), less juice is used. With mobile devices being used for long periods outside the home, and away from re-charge points, battery life is at a premium, and this is why multi-core is becoming such a KSP for mobile devices. What’s special about NVIDIA’s quad-core though, is it’s actually “penta-core” as it has a fifth “companion” core. This core is manufactured with a special low power silicon process which means it uses less juice at low clock rates, but more at higher rates – which is why its limited to 500 MHz. The theory is that this fifth companion will be used for simple background processes; while from one to four of the main cores will be used depending on the activity – four in the case of console-class gaming, for example. That’s why NVIDIA has its own app store for gaming. So expect to see many, many more quad-core tablets, and also smartphones, in 2012.