How many cores is too many when it comes to your smartphone? When you’re featuring more cores than a desktop PC or server then you might have crossed the line but MediaTek’s aiming for a 10-core processor with their upcoming Helio X20 chip. Yes, really.
You might not know it but MediaTek pioneered the octa-core chip, being followed later by the likes of Qualcomm and Samsung’s own Exynos line, so it could be that they’re setting a new trend this time around.
We’d have to ask, though, why ten cores? MediaTek’s planning a 2-4-4 arrangement (note – not a football strategy. Or is it?) with dual Cortex-A72 cores (2.5GHz), four Cortex-A53 cores (2GHz), and four more Cortex-A53 cores (1.4GHz) running the show. That doesn’t answer the question though.
MediaTek is comparing the addition of the two Corex-A72 layers to adding another gear to a car, according to Engadget. In theory, the two heavyweight slices can handle more intensive tasks when needed, with the standard octa-core arrangement (as seen in the Helio X10 chipset) taking care of business as usual. If you were running all ten cores at once then you’re probably looking at thermal issues and smartphones are already starting to run a bit hot. t’s still possible that users or, more likely, hobbyists, might find themselves wanting to make use of all ten cores at once but in reality they’ll be used as needed. MediaTek’s processors have proved quite effective when it comes to core usage, as was seen in our review of the Mobicel Air, so they’ve probably got a handle on things.
But we’re going to reserve judgement until we see one in action, in person. MediaTek’s supposed to be launching the first of their Helio X20 chips as soon as the end of this year, so we won’t have too long to wait. Even if it’s next year, odds are that Samsung and Qualcomm will try to follow suit at some point and a 10-core Exynos would be something to see indeed.