We're still waiting for an Atom-powered smartphone to show up in the United States. Meanwhile, Intel has 10 designs in more than 20 countries. The company hopes a platform refresh called Clover Trail+ renews interest with better hardware and new features.
I’m almost certain that, at some point in 2013, I’m going to happen upon the tablet I consider to be perfect for everything I do. More likely than not, it’ll show up as some combination of x86 hardware and Windows.
But while it seems to be that Intel is about one generation away from having a big impact on the premium tablet space, the company hasn’t seen as much momentum behind Atom-powered smartphones.
We should probably go a little easy on the company. After all, the single-core, Hyper-Threaded Atom Z2460 only surfaced last year and still managed to find itself in 10 designs in more than 20 countries. But there’s still nothing here in the U.S. to show for Intel’s efforts. In fact, the most recent smartphone news was the Lexington platform, based on a single-core Atom processor, tailored to emerging markets. That concept has a handful of wins already, and Intel continues to advocate the importance of capable graphics and 1080p video decode, even in lower-cost handsets.
Intel's Clover Trail+ reference phone.
But before Intel transitions to its next-gen architecture employing 22 nm manufacturing, it wants to refresh Medfield’s space with a performance-oriented successor called Clover Trail+. The new SoC features a second Hyper-Threaded x86 core, juggling up to four threads concurrently. It also leverages a beefier PowerVR SGX544MP2 IP block, which not only doubles Medfield’s graphics resources, but also runs them at up to 533 MHz, rather than 400 MHz. Intel claims as much as 3x the 3D performance as a result.
|Atom Z2580||Atom Z2560||Atom Z2520|
|CPU Frequency||Up to 2 GHz||Up to 1.6 GHz||Up to 1.2 GHz|
|Process Technology||32 nm|
|CPU Performance||Dual-core Saltwell with Hyper-Threading|
|Memory||Dual-channel 32-bit interface; Up to LPDDR2-1066|
|Graphics||PowerVR SGX544MP2, 533 MHz Boost||PowerVR SGX544MP2, 400 MHz||PowerVR SGX544MP2, 300 MHz|
|Display Support||WUXGA (1920x1200)|
|Camera||Primary: 16 MP; Secondary: 2 MP|
As it did with Medfield, Intel built a new reference phone design based on Clover Trail+, shouldering the hardware and software optimization load to (it hopes) court customers straight out of the gate.
Lenovo was actually showing off its IdeaPhone K900 at this year’s CES based on the reference platform. Its 6.9 mm Z-height makes it the thinnest Intel-based phone to date. And yet it offers 1080p resolution with 400+ pixels per inch.