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Intel Designs a Phone Based on Atom

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 FSBChipset • Intel System Controller Hub (SCH) US15WSupported operating systems • MoblinMemory • 1 GB DDR2 533 MHz SODIMMStorage • 8 GB Compact Flash• 1 SATA optionalDisplay/Video/Graphics • 8.9-inch resistant-touch LCD (16:9 aspect ratio LVDS)Audio • HD audio, up to 4 audio streamsI/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 micModular 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.

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • NuclearShadow
    Interesting... I believe that Intel could have some serious potential with cellphones and could become a major player. If they could strike a deal with Microsoft and get Windows Mobile on their phones and try to pack as much hardware power as possible into their phones I can see them getting major popularity and fast.

    In fact if Intel and Microsoft team up maybe they could make something to compete with the Iphone.
    Reply
  • grieve
    Interesting...
    How much is that "home phone" going to cost lol.
    Reply
  • There is very little new here, my cell phone does pretty much all this thing does, yet I can have my cell ANYWHERE, not just stuck at home.

    The "home phone" is a thing of the past, most of my friends don't even have a home phone, of those that do it's VOIP.
    Reply
  • StupidRabbit
    im assuming its going to have built-in bluetooth compatibility, otherwise lcd-cleaning-wipe companies are going to get very rich on the greasy cheek marks on the screen. not that thats a bad thing..
    Reply
  • SamanuelMC
    *drool* Atom based cellphone using Nvidia ION architecture running Andriod *drool*
    Reply
  • vaskodogama
    SamanuelMC*drool* Atom based cellphone using Nvidia ION architecture running Andriod *drool*that's great! *drool*

    but really, the life of the future generations could be like starwars, or matrix or something fancy! :D I like to see my friends talking with me in the big screen while he's putting his finger in his nose or ...! don't get me wrong! :D
    Reply
  • socalboomer
    Dimensions • 5.4 inch x 9.6 inch (137.3 mm x 243.7 mm)?

    I thought the brick phone was dead! LOL - that's HUGE for a phone. . . Definitely not something to stick in one's pocket or even hang off your belt in a pouch. . . that's closer to Netbook size. . .
    Reply
  • apache_lives
    well they sure cant call it an iPhone....

    Wonder if it makes that Intel Inside sound when it starts.... or has those blue men as a ring tone when you get called or recieve a message.

    All i want really is a phone that can run my desktop apps etc and usefull REAL stuff, not something from an appstore thats locked down and limited.
    Reply
  • zodiacfml
    me too, i thought the article meant cellphone. an x86 phone can do anything with the least cost.

    regarding article, why not just make a homephone based from the PC atom platform then install VOIP software to it. i mean, the box consumes little power and doesn't need a fan so it can run 24 hours a day.

    SamanuelMC*drool* Atom based cellphone using Nvidia ION architecture running Andriod *drool*
    Reply
  • I'm still happiest with an old cellphone that only has 3 functions:
    To call
    text messaging
    An alarm clock.

    All the rest I don't need, and am not particularly willing to switch for a heavier, more costly, device.
    Reply