Motorola X8 Mobile Computing Engine Contains Custom ‘Natural Language Processor’ and ‘Contextual Computing Processor’ in Addition to Snapdragon S4

The web at large is expecting Motorola to announce its Moto X smartphone today, a handset built right here in the U.S. at a Texas-based facility and one that has Google CEO Larry Page "very excited." Whether it launches today or sometime later this month, one thing you might hear talked about is its new X8 processing system.

Don't think of the X8 as a processor or a System-on-Chip (SoC), because it's neither of those things. Instead, it's a naming scheme for a collection of technologies, sort of in the same vein as Intel's earlier Centrino nomenclature, except that it refers to the meshing of a customized Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro SoC with a pair of digital signal processors (DSPs).

Breaking it down, the customized S4 Pro part is essentially a 28nm chip running at 1.7GHz, though it features customized firmware with additional optimizations on top.

Moto X

Where things get interesting is with the DSPs. One is described as a "contextual computing processor" and the other a "natural language processor." Motorola isn't saying who makes the chips or where it got them from, only that they're included in the X8 platform.

"The actual silicon is specified by us but we don't go ahead and design and fab it. It's not an ARM processor, it's a very low-power separate processor," Iqbal Arshad, Motorola's senior vice president of engineering, told PCMag.

The contextual computing processor is in charge of the sensors, display, and touch interface, and it might also serve as the primary processor when the phone falls into standby mode, delivering status updates and notifications. Meanwhile, the natural language processor handles audio, noise estimation, and noise cancellation.

"If we did not have the contextual computing processor and our natural language processor in place, we would need two additional batteries," Arshad added, noting that that X8 performs 50 percent better than the competition when running gaming battery rundown benchmarks.