With the anticipated launch of Motorola's new Moto X just a day away, the company is cranking up last minute teasers and press communications. The latest of these is a quick peek at the beating heart of the Moto X, Motorola's somewhat mysterious X8 system-on-chip.
Aside from the Moto X, the X8 also powers several of Motorola's Droid smartphones: the Ultra, the Mini, and the Maxx. Like any SoC, the X8 has a CPU, and in that area the X8 is like any other SoC in use today. It has a 28nm dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, which is benchmarked to run at 1.7GHz. However, it is when you look at the other chips included in the X8 that things get rather interesting.
Motorola Senior Vice-president of Engineering Iqbal Arshad revealed that, aside from the CPU, the X8 contains two other low-power chips. The "contextual computing processor" is in charge of handling hardware such as sensors, display, and touch input. It also seems to be utilized for showing status and notifications when the phone is on standby mode. The "natural language processor", on the other hand, deals with audio and noise cancellation.
Neither of these two are ARM chips according to Arshad. And being separated from the CPU gives Motorola the freedom to use these custom logic chips with any processor, be it from Qualcomm, Intel, or any other manufacturer. Furthermore, these very low-power chips will allows the X8 to still operate efficiently in different power states without sacrificing battery life.
Motorola is being coy about the exact details of these two processors. For example, it doesn't seem that the company is using noise cancellation technology from outside vendors. The chips are also manufactured elsewhere, but the specifications come from Motorola. Arshad says that it's all Motorola's unique technology, coming from the company's decades of experience in mobile technology and digital signal processing (DSP) expertise.