Intel Debuts New Smartphone Chips at MWC


Intel launched its Medfield platform only six weeks ago, but the company is moving ahead with plans for additional processors based on the 32nm SoC. At Mobile World Congress today, Santa Clara announced plans for two additional system on a chip (SoC) designs to flesh out its product roadmap. The current Z2460 that we covered in January will be augmented by the Z2000 at the low-end and a new dual-core chip, the Z2580. Of the two, the Z2000 will ship in retail products in the second half of this year, while the Z2580 won't be available for purchase until early 2013.

The already-launched 1.6GHz Z2460 is also getting a performance nudge; the core is now officially capable of a 2GHz maximum frequency rather than the 1.6GHz Intel specified originally. As far as we know, all current manufacturers are sticking with 1.6GHz, but the option is there for those who want to push the present design. The low-end Z2000 is a single-core Atom clocked at 1GHz with no Hyper-Threading; it'll ship with a companion XMM 6265 modem that supports HSPA+ but no LTE.

The Medfield prototypes we saw in December are very similar to shipping devices

That might seem a bit anemic, but Intel's target market for these devices is the sub-$200 smartphone space in countries like India and China. Here, the Z2000's single-core, non-HT design will go up against relatively low-end products based on older ARM cores with low-resolution screens.

As part of the research that built the Z2000, Intel conducted a survey across the US, Europe, and China to measure which capabilities users were most interested in. The results are shown below:

The Z2000 and the SGX540 GPU that accompanies it are well positioned to deliver the benefits consumers claim to want the most. The Z2000's high-speed camera, support for 720p encode and 1080p decode, and 320MHz GPU are a significant leap above what's currently available at the low end of the market, where screen resolutions range from 480x320 to 800x480 and the older Adreno 200 is often the fastest GPU available. Intel's work on Android doesn't guarantee that carriers will roll out Ice Cream Sandwich to a wider range of phones, but increasing the general capabilities of the lower-end platforms improves the experience of using them.

Let's switch gears and talk a bit more about the higher-end solution.

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