The new Verizon DROID devices announced last week had been thoroughly leaked before the event, but one thing nobody expected was Motorola's new X8 mobile computing platform. The Google subsidiary was intentionally vague when discussing the chip, leaving us scratching our heads. Now Motorola has opened up about the hardware powering those DROIDs, and maybe the Moto X, which will be announced tomorrow.


We already knew the X8 was based on a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro. However, the X8 isn't a processor – it's not even a single system-on-a-chip. The Snapdragon serves as the SoC, with the new Motorola "contextual computing" and "natural language" processors nearby. The Snapdragon firmware has been tweaked in a variety of ways including cache optimizations, Dalvik changes, and a new file system. The company believes this will provide better performance.

Those two new processors aren't ARM cores, but Motorola isn't ready to explain what exactly they are. The company directed the production of the custom silicon, but didn't design and fab it. The contextual computing processor manages the sensor inputs, display, and touch detection. It seems to run the phone when in standby mode, which allows for those Active Display notifications. The natural language processor does all the voice processing and noise cancellation.

Because the X8 system is not a single SoC, these two extra processors can be used with other ARM chips. The X8 is tuned to work with the modified Snapdragon right now, but there's no reason it couldn't work with an Exynos or Tegra. Adding the X8 system doesn't require changes to the fundamentals of stock Android, according to Motorola. Even the Active Display notifications are using the same notification framework present in stock Android. The Moto X announcement might bring more details, but for now we'll have to wait.

[PC Mag – Thanks, Max Luna]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock


    • HellG


  • anonymous

    First android smartphone with dualcore cpu that will run smooth? Im excited for it

    • Abhijeet Mishra

      It's not special because in the end it's basically two cores of a Snapdragon S4 Pro disabled, but since the CPU's per core performance is awesome, dual-core is gonna be fine along with Adreno 320 GPU. Xperia SP uses the same.

      • Dominic Powell

        I can't help but think that the Adreno 320 GPU is modified as well if the Motorola guys statements are true.

  • Abuosaid

    Everything is gonna be revealed soon..

    • Daniel DS

      no shit

  • Grimmjow

    Will the play store scroll smoothly?

    • Abhijeet Mishra

      Nope, not unless the dev team behind it optimizes the app. It's not Android to blame there, it's the Play Store app's developers. :( Google app store app is jittery, iOS app store is slow to load stuff. Seems there's a curse on app stores :-P

      • Grimmjow

        That app was coded by the Google Play team itself bro.

        • Abhijeet Mishra

          And the Google Play team is a separate team than other teams that code other Google apps and from the core OS team, and clearly the Google Play team isn't that efficient at optimization. Though this really is an Android problem where special optimization is required for smooth scrolling, on both iOS and Windows Phone I've never seen any app stutter in scrolling (though they might otherwise be lacking in features or stuff).

          • Grimmjow

            I don't think you understand where the issues are. Even the App drawer lags a lot of times. I guess the App drawer team is clearly not good at optimizations too? Anyway, the point being if the platform maker can't make a fast app, the problem is in the platform.

          • Drew M

            The app drawer is fixed for me in 4.3. The problem with the play store seems to be the heavy job of loading the array of HD icons into memory and rendering them. It doesn't seem to do that independently or in parallel, or in advance. The Android team focusing on the rendering pipeline, as presented at I/O, so there's hope that some attention will be given to this.

          • Abhijeet Mishra

            Yes, that's what I said as well: it seems to be an Android problem, where we're always talking about how this app is jittery or that app isn't smooth. On both iOS and WP, in my experience every app scrolls smoothly, which is apparently being helped by the OS' inherent optimization. Android was an un-optimized mess initially before Google started optimizing, but it's clear there's a long way to go before every app can scroll smoothly without the developer having to work his ass off for optimization (which the dev should do, but if he doesn't, the app should be jittery in scrolling even then).

            Apps like Google+, The Verge, etc are extremely smooth with almost zero hiccups or lags, so it is certainly possible, but Android itself doesn't seem to helping much.

      • John Smith

        indeed, a lot of developers put WAY too much look-up related code in the BaseAdapter. That results in a bad (jittery) experience.

      • Jay T

        They need to have a chat to the guys who did the latest Hangouts update. That app flies.

        • Freak4Dell

          Those guys need to have a chat with the guys who do Hangouts for web browsers. That thing is full of lag if you have a long conversation going.

    • Klunst

      Is this a fucking serious question ? Oo

  • Raymond Berger

    Am I the only one excited to see the "contextual computing" and "natural language" processors in action?

    • Grimmjow

      its not a processor. Its an ASIC.

      • Raymond Berger

        I was literally quoting the post '"contextual computing" and "natural language" processors' but I really don't know.

  • nsnsmj

    Hopefully this has Krait 300 cores like the new Nexus 7 instead of Krait 200 like the original S4 Pro. That would mean it's essentially a dual-core s600, right?

    • Dominic Powell

      correct, this is why i suspect it has similar scores as an s600 in a single core benchmark (cpu z)

    • Drew M

      The N7 and the N4 both share the S4 Pro, which doesn't have low-end Krait 200 cores, those are entirely different. The S4 Pro and the S600 are basically the same. The S600 added hardware prefetch and runs a little higher clock, but they have the same memory interface and bandwidth, same GPU @ the same clockrate.

      • Anon

        Wrong, the S4 pro use Krait 200, the nexus 4 has Krait 200. the new nexus 7 has S600 but runs at lower speeds than advertised, therefore they cant say its the S600. officially the S600 is 1.7Ghz, the cores on the new nexus 7 are Krait 300. just like the S600. you can think of it as "underclocked" S600 but technically its wrong since the S600 is built to be at 1.5Ghz but being sold and advertised as 1.7Ghz.

        as a proof, the new nexus 7 has LDDR3 ram which isn't supported on the S4 pro.

      • Darklord

        S600 charges faster than S4 pro using Qualcomm's fast charging technology if i recall right.

  • mgamerz

    Question, Android police, semi related:

    Is the Motorola that makes things like the S9-HD, S10-HD, and the S11-HD (Bluetooth headsets), the same as this Google owned one?

    • Aaron Berlin

      Google owns Motorola Mobility, and the SX headphones are advertised on its site, so I'm guessing yes.

      Motorola Solutions is the other one, and I don't think they really make any consumer-facing products.

  • Drayon

    Using this same logic, would that mean that the one x has 7 cores?

    • OSagnostic


  • Matthew Fry


  • Bobd

    I need more Cow Bell..

  • Jaime

    Looks neat

  • Ryan O’Neill

    Dat notification.

    So minimalist. I crave it.

  • mrbirdman

    "new file system."

    no. no god please no.

    • Cao Meo

      why not?

    • Joshua Hill

      Androids file mgmt is a disaster. Hopefully the Moto can improve on it.

  • Duncan_J

    hey finally something actually innovative out of moto.

    negativity aside this looks like it deserves a well done.