x86 Everywhere: Intel Announces Medfield Phones - HotHardware

x86 Everywhere: Intel Announces Medfield Phones

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After years of work and a few false starts, Intel is finally ready to take the plunge into the smartphone market. At the CES keynote tonight, the CPU giant is officially launching Medfield, the 32nm smartphone SoC the company has built to take it into the next generation of smartphones (and a few tablets). The chip, now officially named the Atom Z2460, is ready for prime time.



We visited Intel HQ in December and were briefed on the next-generation phone and what Intel expects it to do. After Moorestown's disappointing performance in the space, the CPU giant is keen to put its best foot forward, and our time with the company reflected that. Intel isn't trying to position Medfield as an ARM-crusher, but as a solution that's more than capable of running with the current pack of hardware.


The phone, in-hand. This shot gives a much better demonstration of its size.

Unlike Moorestown, which debuted with a bang, an LG-designed phone, and went nowhere thereafter, Medfield has solid design wins behind it, by which we mean products that will definitely be coming to market. Motorola and Lenovo are both announcing products today. Lenovo has its K800, a device intended for the Chinese market and sold by China Unicom, while Motorola has announced a multi-part deal with Intel for smartphone and tablets.

Details are still a bit sketchy on Moto's hardware, but the company expects to ship phones by this summer, with a tablet following later. These announcements aren't likely to be isolated events, either; we're likely to hear about more products at Mobile World Congress next month.

So what's inside the new chip? Let's have a look.
 

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They are late to the game and they show up with a 32nm Atom is this a joke.

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Power consumption on the device looks excellent --fully comparable to current phones. There's no effective difference between 32nm and 28nm, particularly given that Intel's 32nm is extremely solid. This is no joke.

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Being late has nothing to do with whether they can compete. Plenty of products get introduced into the market all the time and it only depends whether they can compete and not when they are introduced. While being first is no guarantee of success either.

Nor does it matter if a company has failed before, other than stigma and getting consumers to believe in a product but that can all rapidly change. Really, company statuses go up and down all the time and just because a company is down now doesn't mean it can't become tops in very short order.

Never mind for a reality check, ARM is only coming out with 28nm products in the mid to later half of this year. The Tegra 3 for example is still a 40nm product that's even still based on Cortex A9 instead of the more capable Cortex A15. Nvidia may update to 28nm before the 3rd quarter of the year but they may decide to just wait till the Tegra 4 is ready at the end of the year or early next year.

ARM in general is still all 32bit, they're still a few years away from even sample 64bit products. Hardware fragmentation is still a serious issue. Until Windows 8 for ARM comes out in 2013, ARM still lacks a major desktop OS and even then it won't have full legacy support. While in terms of performance only the next gen 28nm chips actually rival Intel ATOM for CPU performance. Meaning that up till now there have been no overlap between ARM and Intel.

ARM's only advantage is it was designed from the start for low power usage that made it ideal for mobile and embedded devices. While Intel has from the beginning been designing all purpose processors intended to provide at least the basic performance needed to run a desktop OS. They have literally been competing from opposite sides of the performance spectrum and it's not easy for either of them to expand into the markets dominated by the other.

However, overlap is finally starting to happen and that means both stand to start making progress into the markets they each dominate right now. Meaning 2013 is the year we'll start seeing Intel make progress on mobile devices and when ARM will start being seen in what have been traditional PC products like laptops.

It's a long time coming for both but don't assume anything until we really start seeing them seriously compete.

Many of the game changers for Intel don't even kick in till they reach 22nm for example. Like the performance boosting Tri-Gate Transistors. Along with the full adoption of efficiency boosting SoC designs and other architectural changes that finally starts closing the gap between x86 power efficiency and ARM's. While similarly ARM is introducing some enhancements of their products over the next year as well.

So we'll see in 2013 to 2014 how this will play out.

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if you read the article you'll see why this is no joke at all.. this should be a very solid first step to make

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This is why I love technology :) go intel! .....well , i dont know if you guys didnt noticed but i see a iphone based design.

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If you're implying that Apple might use Medfield for a future iPhone, that's not happening. Apple has heavily invested in its own version of an ARM core, and the A6 is already well into development.. This point was raised at our meeting with Intel, and the company wasn't willing to even speculate at what point Apple might consider a switch. My personal guess is that this doesn't even become remotely likely until the chip *after* next (let's call it Future Core 2.) 

If you mean that the prototype phone looks something like an iPhone, it looks more like a generic Samsung. In this case, the important factors are its size and weight. Both of these are within standard parameters for currently shipping devices.

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It looks like x32 was on its way out. It will be for normal machines and servers soon but now our phones should be able to run 32 bit sometime soon.

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All modern ARM and x86 processors are 32-bit. There's no plan to move to 64-bit phones on anyone's roadmap and several reasons not to do so at the moment -- 64-bit code is larger than 32-bit code, and cache / memory space is still at a premium in phones.

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