Intel has revealed its latest Medfield smartphone and tablet reference designs, the path-laying hardware the chip company hopes will persuade manufacturers to adopt its x86 mobile chip rather than stick with ARM. The two devices - the phone running Gingerbread and the tablet running Ice Cream Sandwich were demonstrated to MIT's Technology Review, though only a render of the handset has been released. Still, initial impressions from Intel's first SoC seem positive.
Unlike previous Intel chips, Medfield pulls all of the core processing tasks onto a single chip. This so-called System-on-Chip (SoC) design mimics the design strategy of ARM licensees like NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments, which have been far more successful in getting their silicon in mobile devices than Intel has managed. Part of the benefit of a SoC design is battery frugality, something traditional Intel mobile processors have generally struggled with.
The exact nature of the power improvements are yet to be seen, though there appears to be no issue with performance. A combination of software and hardware tweaks apparently sees both smartphone and tablet do well with common mobility tasks, such as multimedia playback and recording:
"The phone was powerful and pleasing to use, on a par with the latest iPhone and Android handsets. It could play Blu-Ray-quality video and stream it to a TV if desired; Web browsing was smooth and fast. Smith says Intel has built circuits into the Medfield chip specifically to speed up Android apps and Web browsing" Technology Review
Meanwhile, the pair are capable of capturing ten full-size 8-megapixel images at a rate of 15 per second, using technology in part based on Silicon Hive, the mobile processing specialists Intel acquired earlier in the year. According to Intel's own tests, Medfield delivers faster browsing, better graphics performance and lower power consumption than "the top three" phones on sale today.
"We expect products based on these to be announced in the first half of 2012" Intel architecture VP Stephen Smith confirms, "now we have [Medfield] in place, we can accelerate."
[via Android Community]