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It's official, Lenovo and Motorola to release Intel Medfield phones

by Alistair Lowe on 12 January 2012, 10:50

Tags: Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), Lenovo, Motorola (NYSE:MSI)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qabbb5

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We had reported on Intel's plans to exhibit the Medfield SoC at CES earlier this month, with LG to produce a reference design, however what we didn't see coming was the immediate adoption of the new mobile-friendly Atom Z2460 chip by firms Lenovo and Motorola, who, according to Intel, are expected to launch new Medfield devices before July and during the second-half of the year respectively.

We had taken for granted, that given the inclusion of integrated graphics cores in the firm's latest processors, that the on-board core would be of Intel design, however it turns out that like many mobile chips currently on the market, Medfield will contain an Imagination Technologies PowerVR SGX 540 400MHz GPU, with Intel also opting in for Imagination Technologies help for the SoC's video encode and decode capabilities. Though Intel's integrated graphics technology has come a long way, it clearly wasn't ready for the mobile stage.

Intel Medfield SoC

What has impressed is the power efficiency and performance that this marriage of components has brought about, with Intel announcing that, despite earlier claims, the SoC will consume no more than 800mW in the worst-case-scenario at 1.6GHz in 'Burst Mode', with the chip capable of scaling down to 500mW at 1.3GHz, 175mW at 600MHz and all the way down to 50mW at 100MHz, "Battery life on the platform is not the best in the mobile market, but it is by far not the worst ... We are very effective and good at some tasks and sort of in the middle of the pack at others." stated Mike Bell, Intel's Ultra Mobility Group general manager.

Intel Measured Smartphone Power Consumption (Identical Display Brightness)
  Standby (3G) Talk (3G) Browsing (3G) Video Playback 720p
Apple iPhone 4S ~38mW ~800mW ~1.3W ~500mW
Intel Medfield Reference ~18mW ~700mW ~1.0W ~850mW
Samsung Galaxy S II ~19mW ~675mW ~1.2W ~650mW

The chip is designed to handle an 8 to 24MP primary camera, with support for a 2MP secondary camera, with the device capable of 10-frame burst capture of a full 8MP at 15FPS, thanks to the recently acquired Silicon HIVE ISP technology.

Figures show excellent performance in CPU heavy tasks such as web-browsing, though graphical performance lacks somewhat with the antiquated SGX 540 core; Intel has promised, however, that it will be releasing a Medfield core integrating the SGX 543MP2 before the end of the year, though we'd hope instead to see the PowerVR G6400 in action instead.

Intel Medfield SunSpider Benchmarks

Intel Medfield BrowserMark Benchmarks

Intel Medfield GLbenchmark

Analysts expect the chip to cost around $17 or $18, directly competing with the likes of NVIDIA's Tegra 3. Whilst in some areas, the Atom Z2460 has excellent power consumption and CPU-end performance, GPU performance is average, with CPU performance a close call against the likes of a quad-core device such as the Tegra 3; by the time devices boasting the Medfield SoC hit the market, they'll likely also have to compete with SoCs sporting the redesigned and more efficient ARM Cortex-A15. This isn't an immediate entrance to the head of the mobile market for Intel, however it is the strong and vital foot through the door that the firm has been hoping for.

 

Credit to AnandTech for performance figures.

 

More from CES 2012



HEXUS Forums :: 5 Comments

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With Intel dipping the proverbial toe in the water with this hopefully we'll see some decent leaps in the mobile space later this year early next from the other SOC guys.

With it being Atom/x86 based though what OS will these devices be running?
Android I would expect.
We had taken for granted, that given the inclusion of integrated graphics cores in the firm's latest processors, that the on-board core would be of Intel design

Not sure why - the Atom Z-series has *always* had Imagination Technolgies graphics. Hexus (well, Scott B) even wrote an article about how interesting that was back in the Z5xx / US15W / GMA500 days… :confused:

Platinum
Android I would expect.

To start with certainly, but presumably Windows 8 once it's released…?
scaryjim
Not sure why - the Atom Z-series has *always* had Imagination Technolgies graphics. Hexus (well, Scott B) even wrote an article about how interesting that was back in the Z5xx / US15W / GMA500 days… :confused:



To start with certainly, but presumably Windows 8 once it's released…?

Fully understand that the GMA 500 was essentially a re-brand and used in the Z6xx series (not all Z series had GPUs), however given consistent improvements made with each new Core i series including again the upcoming Ivy and the inclusion of Intel graphics in other Atoms, I had personally hoped for more out of Intel's own graphics IP, as the convergence of the two appears to come ever closer.

Regards OS, it'll indeed be releasing with Android 4.0 initially, whilst Windows 8 support will no doubt be possible, Windows 8 is geared towards tablets/ultrabooks and not necessarily a replacement for Windows for phones, as far as I know, Windows Phone 7 doesn't support x86. It's interesting as it means for phones the SoC will be stuck with Android for now and the tables on x86 compatibility will be turned when it comes to any apps with native components.
Scribe
… I had personally hoped for more out of Intel's own graphics IP …

As much as Intel's graphics IP has improved, I don't think it can run at low enough TDPs to be a genuine contender in a phone SoC. Early ultrabook reviews showed the graphics performance to be very ordinary once the design becomes TDP limited. Let's not forget that current Atom designs use GMA3150, not a HD Graphics derived core, and it's pretty dire graphically … it makes sense for them to continue licensing proven low power graphics cores when they're aiming to penetrate the mobile market…