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[Suggestion] Open Source ARM CPU from China for the Next Jolla

asked 2014-10-19 05:28:07 +0300

sifartech gravatar image

updated 2015-02-14 02:21:57 +0300

Like it or not, Jolla will have to get into the "CPU race" ... its hard to explain to a non-techie why a "dual-core" on the Jolla might actually be faster than the "quad-core" on his android phone because they use different ARM cores. And the argument that Jolla doesn't need a fast CPU is not very logical - the OS might not require a fast CPU, but some particular app might.

Using good Chinese processors with solid architectures could address this issue / concern among consumers about having a "low end Jolla with slow CPU", while also protecting Jolla's profit margins (as these Chinese CPUs are much, much cheaper).

As such, I suggest that Jolla should seriously consider sourcing ARM CPU's from china for their next phone.

AllWinner and Rockchip might be more than willing to offer open source drivers, to increase their market share in the west. They also have some good chips, like the Allwinner A80T (with ARM Cortex-A15 and A7 in big.LITTLE configuration) or the Rockchip RK3288 (with ARM Cortex-A17) cores.

It could also provide the added benefit of a phone without any closed source American components in it.

Adding to my original post (above) a bit, in reply to @cryorat 's answer here:

Now, I don't know anything about automobiles. If I want to buy one, I check it out in the stores and when the salesman tells me that this model is better than that because it has a "6 point O turbo jet engine", I'll nod my head like I understand his techno mumbo jumbo. But of course, I am a smart buyer - so I'll check out the media reviews of the model too. And naturally, the "6 point O turbo jet engine" is highlighted by all as a plus for that particular model. I feel reassured because I can JUSTIFY (or even show off) to others that this particular model was a good purchase by me because of the "6 point O turbo thingy" in it.

I am sure you get my point. You and I, we understand mobile technology to varying degrees. But a layman just wants a phone "worth the money" he spends on it and, one that he won't be criticized or laughed at for.

This is why marketing defines various "comparison points", so that a layman can psychologically feel that he understands the technology behind a product if he just knows which "comparison point" is superior. So of course, 4 cores is better than 2, and 8 is just awesome. And Corning Gorilla 2 is better than 1 of course. And 5000 mAH battery is better than 3000 mAh, because you know, bigger number = better (who cares if the 3000 mAh is sufficient becaue of the low power ARM cores used in the CPU?)!

Yes, Jolla is a small company. And if it doesn't want to remain one, it needs to think beyond nerds and sell to the layman. "They need a quad core, to make things work, but we don't." can be easily countered by the equally passionate users of the Androids or Apple products by this - "If you can have a quad core for the same price (as the Jolla), why not?".

And the whole point of my suggestion is exactly that - if comparable (to the best processor) Chinese ARM CPU's can be sourced at a competitive price, with the added advantage of open source drivers, why not use those in Jolla 2+ phones? I am not asking that these be highlighted as the next-best-thing-in-innovation in the Jolla 2+ like iphonrs and android phones do. Just mention it in the specs and those who use it for comparing the phone will feel a bit reassured, and those like us that do know more ... well, why would we complain? :)

Update 1:
Came across this article that Google has partnered with Rockchip. First Intel and now Google - that's impressive for a "small" chinese chip designer.

Update 2:
This is an example of how Sailfish too could benefit - Spreadtrum Officially Announces Support for the Tizen OS

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1) The dual core in the Jolla is almost bottom of the range. It's not going to be faster than any recent quad.

2) Even with no apps open, Sailfish drops frames and stutters a little (badly if you don't have the patch from Warehouse to stop the GPU stepping down to a low idle clock) ... with apps added in, it's anything but smooth. The familiar refrain that the Jolla is somehow faster and smoother, with a low end SoC than many high end Android phones and doesn't need more horsepower is totally and utterly untrue. Some of this may be due to Sailfish's buggy, unoptimised nature, but much of it is no doubt due to the low end SoC. It's a shame the (ST-)Ericsson NovaThor chip family was canned, as that would almost certainly have offered a bit more performance than the low clocked dual core Snapdragon 400 in the final iteration of the Jolla.

3) Certainly agree about Chinese SoCs ... but Mediatek (Taiwanese) would be the obvious choice, particularly as the first Ubuntu Phone (which also relies on libhybris) will be using a high end Mediatek chipset. Most of the hard work wrt to driver compatibility will already have been done. By the time the second Jolla launches, they'll have their range of ARMv8 chips available (more instructions per clock, higher performance per watt and 64 bit - though latter useless for mobile).

4) I would say that they shoud try to strike a deal with one of the quality Chinese OEMs to make their next phone. It would almost certainly be a much better product and have many fewer QC issues than the current one. UMi / Xiaomi / Oppo / Meizu / Huawei / ZTE. Biggest issue would probably be being able to order enough for the OEM to be interested.

5) Not sure how 'open source' any of these companies are. Though I understand MTK / AW / RC have all said they will do their best to open drivers in future.

midnightoil ( 2014-10-19 10:58:38 +0300 )edit

@midnightoil Can you repost this comment as an answer here? And we can continue the discussion ...

sifartech ( 2014-10-19 12:54:39 +0300 )edit

china? The land of open source and free speech! Please...

snowfun ( 2014-10-19 20:38:47 +0300 )edit

@snowfun Better than the "land of the free" where everyone just has fantasies and illusions about their rights and freedom. ;) At least in China, the limits on your rights are well known ...

sifartech ( 2014-10-19 21:29:23 +0300 )edit

Use MTK chipset with octacore. Better and cheaper than Qualcomm. MTK is roughly 1.5 years ahead from Qualcomm in terms of processing power. I've bought a 4-core Android tablet with MTK chip that I paid peanuts and it runs extremely fast. Oh.... and MTK is Taiwanese, so you don't need to worry as much about spying from the U.S. or China side.

chinauser ( 2014-10-20 18:35:11 +0300 )edit

5 Answers

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answered 2014-10-19 15:22:13 +0300

cryorat gravatar image

I think jolla shouldn't get in the CPU race. Why? Because it's unlike others. I don't say I won't be happy with an 1024 core 8GHz CPU but It won't be necessary, because whe have a damn fine OS, that is efficient. Android and iOS is not. Mostly the Android. They need a quad core, to make things work, but we don't.

Miguel de Icaza(founder of GNOME) did a research, they ported Android's java code to native C#/Mono. The performance was nearly better by a magnitude. XobotOS

Apple got in the CPU race because people thought a 1.6 GHz Intel is better than a 1.2 GHz PPC. And a superior architecture died.

We don't need to do what others do.

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but wont it boost the performance of Android apps on Jolla?

User ( 2014-10-19 15:53:47 +0300 )edit

It would. But that isn't the main thing. If you want to use power-demanding android apps(like 3D games), you probably buy a high-end android phone. I'm not saying it wont be nice to have a more powerful CPU, more RAM, etc; but Jolla shouldn't get in this race(Who has bigger... :D ). Why? Because Jolla cant compete in this race, because they are a small company.

I had an android, and always wanted a 4core 4GiB RAM device with lots of unuseful features, because my phone was slow, and not a state-of-the-art stuff. Now I have a bit, only a bit better phone and now Im darn statisfied. :) 2cores 2GiB RAM, and my phone is blazing fast and beautiful.

BTW, Google is planning a new virtual layer(like dalvik), and already started working on it.This stuff is much faster than dalvik. (but makeing something faster than dalvik isnt hard :D )

cryorat ( 2014-10-19 16:15:34 +0300 )edit

@cryorat: I've updated my original post, in reply to yours, as I reached the word limit here ....

sifartech ( 2014-10-19 21:45:33 +0300 )edit

When 80386 CPUs came out 25 years ago, a computer science student told me optimizations were not required since CPUs were fast. Bottom line: The more you have, the more you can do. I DO want a flagship Jolla device, even if I am happy with the speed of the current one.

Giacomo Di Giacomo ( 2014-10-19 22:46:29 +0300 )edit

@Anz Yes, and not just the android apps, but even the native sailfish apps.

sifartech ( 2014-10-19 22:49:07 +0300 )edit

answered 2014-10-19 07:57:29 +0300

BirdZhang gravatar image

In our country,MTK's CPU is also very good. :-)

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Yes, I've come across many affordable android phones in the market that use the MTK processor. And I am sure they are very competitively priced too. But I think the chips from AllWinner and Rockchip are more capable and have more processing power. (Ofcourse, this is my personal opinion from what I have read about these processors in the tech media.) Also, Rockchip was chosen by intel to develop their x86 based SOC (for tablets) in China ... that's impressive.

sifartech ( 2014-10-19 08:14:26 +0300 )edit

That's nonsense, Rockchip or AllWinner are definitely not ahead of Mediatek. They may be cheaper, but that's it. Rockchip will be a long way behind Mediatek with the newer generation of ARMv8 based SoCs and use older generations of ARM's GPU designs in all their SoCs. AllWinner are purely a budget brand, and currently don't have any designs (or design wins) in any higher range phones or tablets. There's also Spreadtrum, but again they're much like AllWinner. The other thing is that Mediatek will have much easier access to 20nm or lower foundry processes. In essence, there's almost no reason for Jolla to consider Rockchip over MTK, and certainly not AllWinner or Spreadtrum.

midnightoil ( 2014-10-19 11:13:43 +0300 )edit

Ok, maybe they are not ahead but neither are they behind MTK. The A80T is a good example - reviews of it suggests that only the Nvidia Tegra out performs it. But the tegra is also one of the costliest ... What you call cheap or low budget, I call being competitive ... That said, I don't want to start a CPU war - I just want Jolla to use a CPU with a good price-performance ratio so that its users are happy and Jolla makes money too. And I am sure the Jolla engineers will know the pros and cons of the companies / chips better than us.

sifartech ( 2014-10-19 13:07:33 +0300 )edit

mtk chips are good and cheaper than qualcomms', but there's no source at all. As far as I can see not even a single after market android works with mtk devices, and still it's something to be seen ubuntu on meizu mx3 or mx4.

magullo ( 2014-10-19 16:04:10 +0300 )edit

Mediatek have changed their policy recently. They're releasing source for vital parts of their chips in the Android One programme (as is the requirement), and have committed to making drivers available for existing and future chips. They've also started sponsoring various open software initiatives.

midnightoil ( 2014-10-19 16:45:52 +0300 )edit

answered 2014-11-20 01:40:07 +0300

DimaAsket gravatar image

Jolla can use any processors with any specs, but call it like Apple. Maybe "Nautilus 1" or more numbers. And people will know that "Nautilus 2" better then first. And no need to say specs, or they can be fake. We need good working device that contains software and hardware. We don't need twelve cores CPU. We have in Russia proverb "Меряться письками" that means to compare your penises. Which is bigger?

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answered 2014-10-20 11:22:21 +0300

michdeskunk gravatar image

Take care! Quad core heating more energy!

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I think it depends on the chip design. Newer ARM cores, and new designs that combines different types of ARM cores, address this and try to balance the battery drain vs the processing power offered.

sifartech ( 2014-11-04 05:12:44 +0300 )edit

answered 2015-01-04 22:48:25 +0300

scribe gravatar image


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So what's new? The Americans are one step ahead. The British too are not far behind in helping the NSA. ARM is a British company too - are you going to stop using all ARM processors?

sifartech ( 2015-01-05 01:09:26 +0300 )edit

usa, british and europe are my culture

chiness not!

scribe ( 2015-01-05 20:28:18 +0300 )edit

@scribe - Then you should seriously consider buying mobile phones or electronics made in your country.

sifartech ( 2015-01-05 21:42:40 +0300 )edit
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Asked: 2014-10-19 05:28:07 +0300

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Last updated: Feb 14 '15