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Intel Sampling Prototype Medfield Smartphones, Tablets

By - Source: Technology Review | B 12 comments

Intel is showcasing smartphone and tablet reference designs sporting the company's"Medfield," it's first true mobile SoC.

Intel is reportedly demonstrating reference designs for smartphones and tablets sporting the company's latest Atom mobile chip, dubbed Medfield, running Google's Android OS. Stephen Smith, vice president of Intel's architecture group, says that products based on these designs will be announced in the first half of 2012. Some may even rear their head next month during CES 2012 if we're lucky.

In speaking with MIT Technology Review, Smith claimed that engineers tweaked Medfield specifically to speed up Android apps and web browsing. He also said the SoC will offer a significant technological step toward lower power consumption. Unlike previous Atom designs which spread the processor work across two or three chips, Medfield will be the company's first offering that's truly a single system-on-a-chip design.

"The phone prototype seen by Technology Review was similar in dimensions to the iPhone 4 but noticeably lighter, probably because the case was made with more plastic and less glass and metal," Technology Review reports. "It was running the version of Google's operating system shipping with most Android phones today, known as Gingerbread; a newer version, Ice Cream Sandwich, was released by Google only about a month ago."

The prototype phone was reported to be on par with the latest iPhone 4S and Android smartphone, and could even play Blu-ray quality video and stream it to an HDTV if desired. The device also featured a camera using a "burst mode" which captures ten full-sized 8MP images at a rate of 15 per second. This is accomplished by a combination of image-processing circuits built into the Medfield chip, and dedicated software tweaks which were obtained by Intel's acquisition of Silicon Hive earlier this year.

Technology Review reports that it also sampled a prototype tablet using the same Medfield SoC and Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich." It had a slightly larger screen than the iPad 2 but was about the same in thickness and weight," reads the report. "A limited trial suggested that it was noticeably nicer to use than older tablets based on the abandoned Honeycomb version of Android."

To learn more about the Medfield reference designs, check out Technology Review's full hands-on here.

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Top Comments
  • 14 Hide
    fyasko , December 22, 2011 6:12 AM
    nice going intel. hopefully their will be a good battle between ARM and intel, so that us consumers can benefit.
  • 10 Hide
    acadia11 , December 22, 2011 6:52 AM
    so why is the reference phone better looking than most phones you see the manufacturers putting out, that is hilarious!
Other Comments
  • 14 Hide
    fyasko , December 22, 2011 6:12 AM
    nice going intel. hopefully their will be a good battle between ARM and intel, so that us consumers can benefit.
  • 10 Hide
    acadia11 , December 22, 2011 6:52 AM
    so why is the reference phone better looking than most phones you see the manufacturers putting out, that is hilarious!
  • 6 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , December 22, 2011 7:48 AM
    So wait, is that x86 phone?! I demand a full OS, then! :D 
  • -4 Hide
    CaedenV , December 22, 2011 8:32 AM
    Give me a phone that has a real OS, and which I can use as a bootable external HDD to take over any PC I come across! This is what I have been waiting for for years!
  • 3 Hide
    ThisIsMe , December 22, 2011 12:06 PM
    I still say that if Intel wants to make traction in this area they need to approach a company like nVidia and license the x86 tech to them so they can also make a chip. This is what worked all those years ago. Where do you think AMD came from. I know, I know. They don't want the additional competition on the full PC side, but all they would need to do is add an agreement that the license would only be for making these mobile chips to go into phones and/or tablets. With Intel and nVidia making these chips, Phone manufacturers would be more interested. As it is, a lot of the curent phone manufacturers, including the two largest, use their own chips. They might need this move to really succeed.
  • 0 Hide
    jblack , December 22, 2011 12:51 PM
    Quote:
    The prototype phone was reported to be on par with the latest iPhone 4S and Android smartphone,


    And if they want to compete, they need to be better than the 4S and the latest Android smartphone, because they still don't have a final product. By the time this is released both Apple and Android phone makers will have something better out.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , December 22, 2011 1:43 PM
    "
    And if they want to compete, they need to be better than the 4S and the latest Android smartphone, because they still don't have a final product. By the time this is released both Apple and Android phone makers will have something better out."

    Uh, yeah, they know that. That is why this is a prototype. You prototype what you are going to do but publish the current since the future isn't out yet. Good grief man! The specs for the processor looked real good in testing apparently. Battery life was excellent and performance was off the charts. Intel will be more competitive than people first thought. If they win a few designs, they will really start to make headway because this will be quickly followed with a 22nm design and then a whole new design. Much like ARM entering the PC market, this is good for all of us. Competition will be stiff and that will lead to much better products! We ALL win!
  • 0 Hide
    peevee , December 22, 2011 5:26 PM
    I would like to see the performance of this Atom in comparison to ARM A15. While Intel for some reason (desperate to save some watts?) went back for in-order execution it last had 20 years ago in 486, ARM is out-of-order since A9 if I remember correctly.
  • -4 Hide
    Anonymous , December 22, 2011 6:18 PM
    Well done google you promised less fragmentation for android and now we are going to have x86, risc and arms cpus in our mobile devices... prepare to die Android.
  • -2 Hide
    leon2006 , December 23, 2011 12:21 AM
    battery power is 30 minutes?
  • 1 Hide
    eddieroolz , December 23, 2011 11:49 AM
    I want to try out prototype hardware =]