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.