Chip start-up wants 16 cores in your smartphone

A US chip start-up has a cunning plan to speed up your smartphone with a 16 core chip that sides alongside your CPU.

Adapteva has come out with the multicore Epiphany processor, which is designed to speed up software in servers and low-power devices such as smartphones and tablets.

According to the company the chip is scalable to thousands of cores on a single chip. It can be placed alongside CPUs to provide real-time execution of different applications.

Adapteva CEO Andreas Olofsson said that Epiphany chips are currently scalable up to 64 cores in smartphones and up to 4,000 cores in servers.

According to Computerworld the processor is based on an RISC design, has floating point capabilities and is designed to be power efficient.

The company claims that a chip running at 1GHz with 16 cores can consume less than 1 watt.

What Adapteva thinks the chip can be used for is to speed up tasks like hand gesture recognition, face matching or face tracking.

Currently smartphones are limited by the processing power of the low-powered chips.

Already there is talk of using GPUs to do something similar, but Adapteva said that its idea works better because you can run C programs too,

Olofsson pointed out that some GPUs rely on proprietary binary libraries from vendors.

Adapteva’s Epiphany processors, use standard ANSI-C applications and are “out of the box”. The outfit can provide libraries to help programmers, it says.

The chip lacks a memory management unit and is not designed to be a fully functional CPU. It also cannout run programs with millions of lines of code.

But sitting alongside a CPU it is still useful.

The Epiphany processor is designed for the 65-nanometer manufacturing process, but the company hopes to jump to the 28-nm manufacturing process soon. Olofsson said that a 1GHz chip made using the 28-nm process with 16 cores will consume 0.25 watts of power.