Is this generation of Android phones particularly power-hungry?

I believe that many of my friends have already purchased Android machines with the latest generation of CPU platforms. The CPU of this generation of Android phones has undergone drastic changes. While maintaining the large, medium, and small core architecture, major changes have been made to the microarchitecture of both the large core and the small core. The evolution of the micro-architecture of the small core should be long-awaited by everyone. The ancestral Cortex-A55 has finally retired. It stands to reason that the new Cortex-A510 should bring better energy efficiency. But some people found that this generation of Android phones seems to consume more power. Why is this? Today, let's start with the architecture of the new generation of ARM processors and briefly talk about the power consumption problem caused by the 64-bit popularization delay of Android applications.

Are the new ARM processors even more power-hungry?

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 8gen1 processor used in the latest generation of Android phones currently on the market, and the upcoming MediaTek Dimensity 9000 processor are all newly designed products based on the ARMv9 architecture. They all have a common feature, that is, the large-core and small-core microarchitectures mentioned at the beginning of the article have undergone major changes. The large core uses the Cortex-X2 microarchitecture, while the small core uses the Cortex-A510 microarchitecture.

Whether it is Cortex-X2 or Cortex-A510, they all have a common feature, that is, they no longer support 32-bit. If the Android machine wants to run 32-bit applications, it must only make small adjustments in the micro-architecture. Cortex- running on the A710. This may lead to additional energy consumption in some scenarios.

In an ideal situation, when the Android machine is in standby or under low load, the application mainly runs on the small core, and the energy efficiency ratio of the small core is the best so that the power saving effect can be achieved; but today, if the App is 32 Bit, in the new ARM processor, it can only be run by the medium core, the energy efficiency advantage of the small core can only be stared, and the situation of extra power consumption will appear.

In other words, in an Android machine using a new generation of CPU, if you run a 32-bit App, it will not be able to achieve the ideal energy efficiency ratio. This problem has nothing to do with the chip technology and has nothing to do with the system. It is indeed caused by the mismatch between the Android ecosystem and the new processor architecture.

Only 64-bit Android apps can run on the small core of the new ARM processor so that the new ARM processor can play its due energy efficiency. Therefore, popularizing 64-bit Android apps becomes the answer to the question of when the new generation of ARM processors can save more power.

Android apps still not 64-bit?

In the current Android ecosystem, there are still a large number of 32-bit applications. These applications are not lacking in common installation requirements, such as Bilibili, Baidu Netdisk, iQiyi, and so on. Is this normal? From a technical point of view, it seems very inappropriate.

Since ARMv8, the CPU of the Android camp has generally supported 64-bit, and the Android system has also supported 64-bit applications from the system level after Android 5.0. These two things are actually relatively ancient - the ARMv8-based Snapdragon 810 and Android 5.0 both appeared in 2014, and almost ten years have passed. Why are a large number of Android apps still stuck in 32-bit?

We can compare the Apple camp. In 2013, the iPhone 5S and iOS 7 began to implement 64-bit, and more than a year later, 32-bit iOS applications have been hard to find. Compared with Apple's pace, the Android camp is struggling.

Why is it so difficult to implement 64-bit Android? This has a lot to do with the actual situation of the Android ecosystem. Although after ARMv8, the CPU of the Android camp has added 64-bit support, but still retains 32-bit compatibility. Even the previous generation ARM v8.2 processor still consumes extra transistors to be compatible with 32-bit apps. At the same time, the Android system has always been compatible with 32-bit apps, and there is no urgent need for apps to switch to 64-bit. All of these considerations are largely based on compatibility with older devices.

When Android was first introduced to 64-bit, there were still plenty of devices on the market running older CPUs and older versions of Android. The secret of Android's siege in the market lies in openness and compatibility. If there is a one-size-fits-all approach to 32-bit, then the Android camp will inevitably usher in a split. In fact, open systems all have such problems. For example, in order to maintain backward compatibility, the Windows ecosystem still provides excellent compatibility with 32-bit application software, which is the same as Android.

Of course, unlike Windows, Android doesn't take on many productivity tasks. Nearly a decade after the initial introduction of 64-bit, it is indeed time for Android to completely ditch the 32-bit package.

What are the benefits of Android dropping 32-bit compatibility? First, the CPU can save 32-bit compatible transistors, which is particularly valuable for chips with a lot of money; secondly, apps can have better memory utilization, which is more and more expensive for the ever-expanding application games. is crucial; in addition, the app can also use the CPU's registers more efficiently, bringing higher efficiency.

Today, when Android apps are becoming more complex and Moore's Law is becoming invalid, the time has indeed come to abandon the historical package and fully embrace 64-bit. Although there are still a large number of 32-bit apps in the Android ecosystem, we can also see efforts from many parties to popularize 64-bit.

For example, Google requires that starting August 1, 2019, apps published on Google Play must support 64-bit. Because of this, the Android ecosystem in foreign countries has done a better job of popularizing 64-bit than in China. This time the Android CPU platform is replaced, the power consumption problem of domestic Android machines is also more obvious than that of foreign countries.

The Google Play Store has banned 32bit apps from the shelves more than two years ago, and the domestic Android ecosystem is lagging behind

For another example, domestic Android distribution channels have also begun to require apps to support 64-bit. The OPPO store has previously stipulated that after the end of December 2021, newly released applications must support 64-bit; while the Xiaomi store provides a one-click replacement of 32-bit apps to 64-bit. There is a 64-bit version in the store, which can be updated with one click.

At the same time, many domestic apps have recently been updated to 64-bit, such as WeChat, QQ, 12306, and so on. It is believed that in the near future, 64-bit Android apps will be widely popularized in China soon, and the new generation of Android phones will also exert due energy efficiency.

There is no doubt that compared with Apple, Android's 64-bit popularization process is backward, and the Android camp does not have the absolute monopoly of application distribution channels like Apple. This is also the price that Android needs to pay for taking advantage of the open wind. Fortunately, all parties in the Android camp have realized the importance of popularizing 64-bit. Will the next-generation Android CPU further abandon 32-bit support? Let's wait and see.

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