Mobile Processors

Mobil Processor Displays Fully Integrated all-in-one Chip

The era of personal computing can hardly be discussed without mentioning the chip maker Intel, however so far mobile device market has been dominated by the chip designs of the British company ARM; Intel has been nothing but observer of the portable and mobile devices evolution.This is about to change; Intel has already done it once on motherboard market about decade ago where it is now an undisputable leader.

MOBILE PROCESSOR

Medfield belongs to "Atom" line of mobile processors. Previously Atom chips have not seriously challenged the dominance of ARM-based chips on mobile device market, mostly to their power consumption. Medfield, however, represents a significant technological leap toward lower energy consumption. Atom designs had been derived from Intel PC CPUs, from which they inherited power hungry, multi-chip architecture, but this time the company combined all core functions of mobile processor on single wafer of silicon.  Stephen Smith, vice president of Intel's architecture group admits that Medfield is their first truly single chip processor.

MOBILE PROCESSOR

Prototypes loaded with Medfield mobile processor and Android OS have been undergoing tests and receiving reviews since last year. Different manufactures led by the Lenovo are getting involved in building mobile devices around new processor. "They can use as much or as little of the reference design as they prefer," declares Smith. The phone prototype tested was about size of iPhone 4 but lighter weight because of wider use of plastic rather that glass and metal. It was fast, powerful and comfortable to use, able to both play and stream HD quality video to a TV set. Browsing was also a pleasure. Phone's camera offered "Burst mode" of 10 frames per second at 8 MP resolution, not unlike entry level SLR cameras!

MOBILE PROCESSOR

Reference tablet, which used the same mobile processor as the phone, was running Google's Ice Cream Sandwich and had slightly larger screen than iPad but was about the same thickness and weight. It was nicer to operate that older Honeycomb run tablets. Now Intel finally has a processor that can seriously challenge current leaders of mobile devices market. "Now we have this in place, we can accelerate," Smith says. "We haven't been able to show a production-grade design before."

MOBILE PROCESSOR

Medfield processor has brought lots of attention, both, at CES in January and Mobile World Congress in February. Company unveiled the first phone, the Lenovo K800, powered by this processor. This phone will be entering Chinese market first half of this year. Europe is following next with Medfield-powered Android phone nicknamed the Santa Clara later this year; Mobile World Congress announced that it will be operating on a network of European wireless provider Orange. Santa Clara carries a 1.6 GHz Medfield processor, but since it is not available on the western market yet we've collected some interesting statistic. Casych has tested the Santa Clara's ability to process Java and HTML. Below listed results of Qualcomm's Vellamo benchmark application; Casych ran BrowserMark for phones. According to Casych's posting, the Santa Clara outperformed the iPhone 4S in BrowserMark, posting impressive score of 89,180 against 87,801 of iPhone's; it outran the Galaxy Tab 10.1, the Acer Iconia Tab, the Motorola Xoom, the Asus Transformer and Google's Galaxy Nexus, demonstrating excellent graphics. The only two devices that able to beat the Santa Clara's Medfield in this benchmark were the Asus Transformer Prime powered by Nvidia's quad-core Tegra 3 chip and the Xiaomi Mi-One Plus which packs a dual-core 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon. Today, it appears that Medfield processor has no trouble competing with most of the top mobile devices available today, however coming up summer will reveal more news once Europe launches their version of the phone powered by Medfield processor.

MOBILE PROCESSOR

Linley Group also acknowledges the significance of offering a fully integrated all-in-one chip. "It should make Intel more competitive, the same level as competitors" they say. Linley Group adds, that, because Medfield chips are built on 32 nanometer wafers while the ARM-based chips today are built on either 40 to 45 nanometers wafers, they claim more advanced technology than the competition making chips parts smaller and more energy efficient than their competition. They are likely to lose that advantage when ARM-based chips will receive the same feature, but Smith promises that Intel will begin delivering mobile chips on 22 nm wafers in 2013. Producers of ARM-based chips say they are not going to be able to produce 22 nm chips before 2014. This situation represents Intel's biggest advantage in the situation with mobile chips. Linley Group has an opinion however that Intel could lag behind in other aspects. While integrating everything into a single chip was a great move, big guys like Qualcomm are already moving one step further by incorporating the wireless modem chip into one unit with the main processor, resulting in even higher efficiency. Smith could not indicate when Intel will be able to make that move.

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