Intex, an Indian phone company will soon start selling a smartphone powered by an 8-core processor. This new processor is made by MediaTek, a Taiwanese company. Unlike the 8-core processor made by Samsung, which uses only four cores at a time in Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy S4, the processor made by MediaTek can use all of its cores simultaneously.
The processor is called MT6592 and it can run at a speed of up to 2GHz. But in the phone that Intex will launch, the processor will run at the speed of up to 1.7GHz.
For now Intex is the only Indian company that has announced its intention to launch a phone powered by this 8-core processor but if past is any indication, MT6592 should soon come in other phones sold by local companies like Micromax and Spice. Currently most of the top-end phones sold by local players are powered by MT 6589, a quad-core processor made by MediaTek.
There are two key questions:
* How fast is an 8-core processor? Can it match or beat the high-end quad-core processors used by Samsung and Qualcomm?
* Does it help consumers get better experience from the phone? Do you need 8-cores in a processor?
Before we talk about MT6592, let’s take a look at its specifications:
* MT6592 has 8 cores based on A7 architecture by ARM. A7 is a low-performance, low-power use architecture compared to technology used by Qualcomm and Samsung in their high-end processors.
* The processor has four cores of Mali 450 graphics chip
* MT6592 supports playback of 4K videos
* It supports new video codecs such as H.265 and VP9
* The chip supports up to 16 mega-pixel cameras
To check theoretical performance of MT6592, we ran some benchmarking apps on the Intex phone that will launch in January. The device is in prototype stage as the software running on it is not yet final. So performance figures we obtained through benchmarks are only indicative of the final performance, which is likely to be slightly better.
We used GeekBench 3, Vellamo HTML and Vellamo Metal, BrowserMark and Sunspider to find out the general computing performance.
To get an indication of gaming performance of MT6592, 3D Mark, GLBenchmark 2.7 and BaseMark X were run on the phone.
Results Geekbench 3: 440 points for single core. 2331 points for multi-core.
Interpretation: MT6592 offers lots of performance to apps that can use all its cores. Unfortunately most apps use one or two cores and performance with these apps is likely to be average with MT6592.
Vellamo HTML: 1834 points
Vellamo Metal: 681 points
Interpretation: This is a decent score but nowhere near what top phones manage. But this is enough performance for a fast and responsive phone.
BrowserMark: 2515 points
Sunspider: 997 points (lower is better)
Interpretation: This is a good score and shows that MT6592 is capable of offering good web browsing experience.
3D Mark: 7095 points is the total score. For physics, MT6589 scores 11034 points and for graphics the score is 6438 points.
Interpretation: Compared to budget Android phones, which are powered by quad-core processors, and are currently available, this is a good score. Compared to the high-end Android phones, it is a disappointing score. The key here is that physics score, which is based on general processor, is very good but the graphics score based on graphics chip is poor.
BaseMark X: 5.39 frames per second (offscreen)
GLBenchmark 2.7: 11FPS in GLB 2.7 and 30FPS in GLB 2.5. Both offscreen
Interpretation: MT6592 is likely to have decent gaming performance. This means it will run games like Temple Run very well. But it is likely to have problem handling games that have very high-quality graphics like Dead Trigger 2.
Comparison To see how MT6592 compares to a high-end processor like Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, we ran the same benchmarks on Nexus 5. Here are the scores:
Geekbench 3: 943 points for single core. 2647 points for multi-core.
Vellamo HTML: 1582 points (this score seems too low in Nexus 5. Usually Snapdragon 800 chip scores around 2900 points)
Vellamo Metal: 1168 points
BrowserMark: 3073 points
Sunspider: 669 points (lower is better)
3D Mark: 17463 points is the total score. For physics, the device scores 15924 points and for graphics the score is 17959 points.
BaseMark X: 14 frames per second (offscreen)
GLBenchmark 2.7: 23FPS in GLB 2.7 and 58FPS in GLB 2.5. Both offscreen.
Are eight cores better?
The answer is a clear no. Number of cores doesn’t matter. The actual technology used inside the cores is more important. This is the reason why Snapdragon 800 is significantly faster than MT6589 even though it has four less cores. Similarly the chip in Note 3 is also faster than MT6592. And theoretically, A7, the processor that powers iPhone 5S is faster than every other mobile processor even though it has just two cores.
Another important bit here is that even though theoretically the general performance of MT6592 seems very good, the graphics performance is poor compared to what high-end phones offer.
Will this 8-core processor make your phone faster?
The good thing about MT6592 is that it will power budget and mainstream phones. The idea here is to offer almost 70% to 80% performance that high-end phones have at a price that is around 50% less.
In that respect, MT6592 seems to serve its purpose well.
Theoretically the new MediaTek processor is significantly faster than MT6589, a quad-core processor that powers almost all the current top-end smartphones sold by Indian companies. It is also faster than the processors used by companies like Samsung and LG in their mainstream and budget Android phones.
Performance is definitively there in the MT6592. But as a consumer, be careful of the hype. Eight cores in a phone don’t magically make it better than devices like Nexus 5.
There are good cores, average cores and bad cores. If you want good cores, especially if you want top class gaming experience, you will still have to spend a bit more. Thankfully, if companies use MT6592 properly and optimize the software on their phones well, it seems to have enough power to provide smooth Android experience to people who use budget and mainstream phones.