Thursday, December 22, 2011

Intel’s Atom powered smartphones and tablets shown off

Intel has been behind the curve when it comes to mobile processors in smartphones and tablets. While their success in the desktop and mobile processors for laptops is undeniable, other manufacturers like ARM, Texas Instruments and Nvidia have taken up huge chunks of this incredibly growing market.

Recently Intel provided reference design smartphones and tablets to various manufacturer with their ‘Medfield’ processor powering Android Gingerbread. ”We expect products based on these to be announced in the first half of 2012,” said Stephen Smith, vice president of Intel’s architecture group to Technology Review who were lucky enough to check out the prototype in person.

“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.” Apparently the Medfield was optimized to improve the browsing experience on Android smartphones, as well as running apps faster.

As far as the Medfield powered tablet is concerned, it was seen running Android Ice Cream Sandwich. While the screen size was slightly larger than the iPad 2, it was just as thin and light. “They can use as much or as little of the reference design as they like,” says Smith.

“This is our first offering that’s truly a single chip,” says Smith. The 32nm process is smaller than the currently popular 40nm process used by ARM processors, which means the Medfield runs much cooler and with lesser energy draw than its current competitors.

We will probably start production prototypes from various manufacturers as early as next month during CES, with large scale retail units out in the next 6 to 7 months. Could, the Medfield powered Android Ice Cream Sandwich tablet be the one hinted by Eric Schmidt as Google’s tablet of choice coming out in the next 6 months?

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