While the thought of putting the Atom into a phone may seem like overkill, Intel’s got larger visions of what a home phone should be.
Some of us have already ditched the phone line at home in favor of the cell phone because the mobile version can do all the same things that the wall-plugged one did. Oddly enough, now cell phones are more capable than old home phones, with the ability to browse the internet and send text messages.
Intel hopes its Atom processor can completely change things and bring a new and improved phone concept back into the home. Instead of focusing on calls, Intel’s concept for the new age phone incorporates many of the functions on would expect of any other net-connected device.
Although Intel isn’t getting into the business of making home phones, Intel has created a reference design for a media phone that it hopes will inspire other companies to follow in the chipmaker’s example. And not only did Intel put together the hardware for the reference design, it also includes schematics and validated software stacks.
The reference design for Intel’s media phone is based on the Atom Z5xx series and is paired with the Intel System Controller Hub US15W, which supports serial interfaces such as serial ports, RS232, Wi-Fi card, Bluetooth module and a pair of card reading slots. Connectivity can come from PCI Express and six USB 2.0 ports. While phone functions need only full duplex sound, US15W supports up to four audio streams. Intel plans to tie it all together using its own customized Linux OS called Moblin.
The full specifications for the Intel Media Phone Reference Design are as follows:
Dimensions • 5.4 inch x 9.6 inch (137.3 mm x 243.7 mm)
Processor • Intel Atom processor Z5XX 533 MHz FSB
Chipset • Intel System Controller Hub (SCH) US15W
Supported operating systems • Moblin
Memory • 1 GB DDR2 533 MHz SODIMM
Storage • 8 GB Compact Flash• 1 SATA optional
Display/Video/Graphics • 8.9-inch resistant-touch LCD (16:9 aspect ratio LVDS)
Audio • HD audio, up to 4 audio streams
I/O connectivity • 2 SDIO/MMC serial interfaces • RS232 • 1 PCI Express port • 6 USB (5 external, 1 internal) • 2X RJ45 (LAN and PC) • 1 HDMI • 1 RJ22 • 3.0 mm audio jacks – mic input headset output • 2.0 mm phone headset jack • Internal speakers and mic
Modular options • Wi-Fi/Bluetooth • USB port (DECT FXO) • (Camera optional) • 1 mini PCIe slot
Essentially, Intel wants to create a phone system that can work with the traditional plugged or VoIP habits, but also expand with the connectivity of a netbook. The fact that Intel put an HDMI output on the reference design shows that there’s far more at play here than just a fancy voice communications device.
For a conceptual demonstration of Intel’s idea of the phone of the future, check out this YouTube video.