You may have seen some Medfield related news today - I thought I'd chime in with some of my thoughts on the topic. As a recap, in 2008 Intel introduced its Atom microprocessor - originally designed for MIDs (Mobile Internet Devices) and repurposed for use in netbooks. In 2010 we got a more integrated version of Atom called Moorestown designed for smartphones and tablets. Intel had basically no success with Moorestown, although Pineview (its netbook counterpart) was still used in netbooks. In our original architecture piece I called Moorestown the "two-chip solution that uses five chips". Despite physical real estate requirements, Moorestown could fit into something that was a bit larger than an iPhone at the time. At the time everyone assumed Moorestown didn't make it into a phone because of unreasonably high power draw, but no one was able to back up those claims with actual test data. Intel will tell you that Moorestown never made it anywhere because it lacked platform focus. Intel was off chasing Moblin/MeeGo and Android wasn't a priority. Things have obviously changed since then.

Medfield is the 32nm successor to Moorestown. Intel hasn't disclosed many details about Medfield's architecture, but we do know that it is a more integrated single chip design (compared to Moorestown's "two-chip" solution). We also saw Intel's Medfield reference smartphone and tablet, both running Android, at IDF. While this is still far away from announcing an actual design win, it's clear that Intel is finally making progress in the right direction. Couple these recent milestones with more recent restructuring inside Intel and it looks like the company is finally preparing to really enter the mobile market.

This brings us back to today's news. The information disclosed today came from an investor conference earlier this month. Above is a slide from the aforementioned meeting.

Intel has carefully removed the names of the devices in this chart. Barring any outright deception however, there seems to be potential in Medfield. One would assume that device manufacturers are given access to this (and more) performance data. One might also be able to infer that if Intel does indeed have a Medfield design win (hopefully more than one), then these numbers might be fairly convincing. The war begins in 2012...

Source: Intel [pdf]

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  • retrospooty - Wednesday, December 21, 2011 - link

    OKeedokkee... Wait and see then. Reply
  • xytc - Wednesday, December 21, 2011 - link

    Wait till Apple sue them like they sue everyone else, then will be game over for Intel Medfield x86 Andoird Phones. Or even worse maybe till Intel manages to release the Medfield in 2012, Apple will already succeeded to ban all Android OS&phones then Intel will have the CPU but no OS to support it or no mobile phone that can integrate it since they will be all banned by Apple. After all that was the dream of Steve Jobs to destroy all Android eco-system phones+OS+processors that means destroying all other mobile phone makers besides Apple, destroying all other mobile OS'es besides iOS and destroying all other processor developers besides Apple, what a wonderful dream of a dead man this was. ROTFL Reply
  • retrospooty - Thursday, December 22, 2011 - link

    "Apple will already succeeded to ban all Android OS&phones"

    What are you smoking that makes you think Apple will win? They have already lost most of their cases that have come to court becasue they have no merit.

    Apple is suing for very vague concepts. If you want to say "Apple is being copied", then take it back to the root. Apple "copied" the whole mobile phone idea, as well as putting and OS and apps on a phone from Palm/Handspring. All companies do this. The entire industry builds off ideas of others. It always has, as all industries always have. Its as if to say, Toyota, GM, BMW and Honda shouldnt be allowed to make cars because they all copy Ford. Specifically Appl's suits are as if Ford sued GM because they have cupholders and mudflaps on their pick up trucks. Petty and irrelevant.
    Reply
  • Tchamber - Tuesday, December 27, 2011 - link

    I agree, let's wait and see...Remember when we all first saw a netbook? It was kinda cool, but it turned out to be a failure...and that was a major initiative of Intel's. Dell just stopped making all their minis. But make it or not, another player is going to be good for us consumers. Let's wait and see what happens, worst case is they fail. Best case, we see Intel chipped tablets and phones. And like it or not, the Intel brand sells. Heck, they'll even try to buy their way into products, and it will probably work. It would be nice to see an Android tablet beat the featureless iPad2 in EVERY benchmark. That's my 2 cents. Reply
  • tipoo - Wednesday, December 21, 2011 - link

    Intel is still being annoyingly vague with this, current Atom cores draw magnitudes more power (watts vs hundreds of milliwats) than ARM cores, I'd be surprised if it actually drew less power than ARM cores like they are saying here. And graphics performance is as compared to what? A measly 535, a Mali 400, or a SGX543MP2? Or what is performance in general compared to, a single core Cortex A9 or dual core A9 or quad core Tegra 3, etc etc. I'm excited to see some new blood in the SoC market but this tells us almost nothing. Reply
  • MonkeyPaw - Wednesday, December 21, 2011 - link

    Its nice of them to compare to "shipping smartphones," as vague as that is. What range does that include, the 3GS all the way up to Droid Bionic? Reply
  • Hector2 - Wednesday, December 21, 2011 - link

    Quite awhile ago, IDF I think, Intel announced that the new 22nm process with the new FinFET 3D transistors has still lower active power and a 20X reduction in standby leakage power over even 32nm products -- that means much improved battery life over Medfield's 32nm. Medfield 32nm gets Intel in the door and in the race. 22nm is the real winner over ARM. While 22nm is indeed a generation ahead of ARM, the 22nm FinFET puts them out even further. No one but Intel has that until at least the 16nm node. Reply
  • Einy0 - Wednesday, December 21, 2011 - link

    Agreed... Notice no comparable apps power usage. Everything they show for battery life could be done with a idle or near idle core using on-chip task specific dsps etc... Standby 3G, Audio Playback, Video Playback all easily off loaded. Fire up that ATOM cpu to run a web browser and bam suck down half your battery in 5 mins or did Intel make a giant leap in power consumption? Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Wednesday, December 21, 2011 - link

    Is there any public data showing that a 32nm LP, highly integrated Atom based SoC isn't power competitive under load with ARM Cortex A9 based SoCs?

    I'm not saying this is or isn't the case, but what if Intel were competitive on that front as well? I suspect we'll find out soon enough :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Wednesday, December 21, 2011 - link

    Not all CPU manufacturing processes are requivalent. Netbook/Nettop atoms are made on the same high power optimized process as normal laptop and desktop chips. The phone atom is built on a low power process (like existing arm CPUs). The Intel version is reported ~10% slower; but has 10-100x lower idle power consumption than its desktop version. This is enough to get Intel into the same ballpark as ARM SoCs; until Intel gets working hardware into the hands of independent hardware sites we can't know precisely how competitive their hardware is but on the face of it these slides look about right. Reply

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