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Posts Tagged: Intel Medfield

intel medfield reference design

Remember those Intel prototypes that were shown off in late December? Well, they’re official now, and both Motorola and Lenovo have announced that they would be bringing smartphones with Intel’s new Medfield SoC to market.

The Lenovo K800 will be the first x86-smartphone using Intel silicon and will be available in China in the second quarter. It comes with a 4.5″ 720p screen and the Atom Z2460 processor, running Android 4.0 with Lenovo’s custom LeOS skin on top.

Motorola, on the other hand, hasn’t launched any specific devices yet, but signed a multi-device, multi-year deal with Intel covering both smartphones and tablets. The devices using the same Atom processor and running Android are said to be coming later, in the second half of this year.

There’s no word yet on whether LG will be joining the fun, as claimed by a report from two weeks ago. Maybe we’ll see some more announcements at Mobile World Congress in February, but whatever the case, Intel already seems to be in a better position compared to past attempts at getting its chips into mobile devices. With two dedicated partners and by utilizing Android instead of its own mobile OS, there’s definitely a chance that Intel may be able to gain a foothold in the market it has neglected in the past, ironically while Windows 8 is simultaneously looking to scale down by introducing ARM support.

For more coverage, see Techmeme and ExtremeTech’s in-depth article about the new Intel Medfield SoC.

intel_phone_x616

MIT’s Technology Review has gotten some hands-on time with smartphone and tablet prototypes using Intel’s Medfield SoC running Android Gingerbread and Ice Cream Sandwich, respectively.

Intel’s chips are based on the x86 architecture, as most other desktop CPUs, whereas virtually all smartphones and tablets use chips based on the ARM architecture, like Qualcomm’s Snapdragon or Nvidia’s Tegra. There have been two reason for this: mobile operating systems like Android were only compatible with ARM, and x86 CPUs consumed too much power. Both issues have been rectified, however, with Google announcing that all future Android versions would be x86-compatible at the IDF back in September, and Intel readying its Medfield SoC, which remedies the power consumption issues by combining all chips in one package.

Technology Review has found the Intel prototypes, reference designs that are designed to show off a platform to manufacturers, to be very smooth, “on par with the latest iPhone and Android handsets”, with the tablet running Ice Cream Sandwich “noticeably nicer to use than older tablets based on the abandoned Honeycomb”. Furthermore, Intel is said to have found its Medfield prototype to be offering “faster browsing and graphics performance and lower power consumption” than three other leading smartphones, according to internal tests.

As for consumer availability, Stephen Smith, VP of Intel’s architecture group, expects “products based on these to be announced in the first half of 2012″, hinting at product announcements at the CES in January.

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