Intel Corp. has demonstrated its first smartphones and tablets based on the company's code-named Medfield system-on-chip to journalists. The reference design devices appear to work without issues and actual manufacturers are projected to unveil their actual products based on the 32nm Atom-based SoC sometimes in the first half of 2012.
"We expect products based on these to be announced in the first half of 2012. [Manufacturers] can use as much or as little of the reference design as they like," says Stephen Smith, vice president of Intel architecture group, in an interview with Technology Review web-site.
The web-site claims that it had tried out prototype smartphones and tablets equipped with Intel's code-named Medfield system-on-chip, and running custom versions of Google Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" or Google Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" operating system.
The smartphone reference design seen by Technology Review was very similar to Apple iPhone 4 in terms of design and size, but since it was made mostly of plastic, its weight was lower. The smartphone could playback "Blu-ray quality" video, browse the web smoothly and could quickly operate the camera. The tablet sported 10.1" screen and was about the size and weight as Apple iPad 2. The device was "nicer to use than older tablets" running Google Android 3.0 "Honeycomb".
"Now we have this in place, we can accelerate. We haven't been able to show a production-grade design before," said Mr. Smith.
Intel itself claims that it has tested its reference Medfield-based smartphone against the "leading phones on sale today" (probably Apple iPhone 4/4S, Samsung Galaxy S II, etc.) and found that its phone could offer faster browsing, graphics performance and lower power consumption. While Intel does not give any actual performance numbers, the results seem to be impressive, given the fact that Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" does not support hardware acceleration for 2D graphics or multi-core processors, unlike, for example, Apple's iOS 4/5 as well as Android 3.0/4.0.
In a bid to speed up development of solutions for the next-generation mobile computers, tablets, smartphones and consumer electronics, the Intel earlier this month decided to combine its netbook and tablets division, ultra mobility division, mobile communications division and the mobile wireless division into one mobile and communications group (MCG). The new mobile division will be able to more efficiently address the needs of the new mobile and consumer devices, according to Intel. The divisions will be more focused on working on reference designs, interoperability between components, software and so on, which will accelerate time-to-market of products powered by Intel's silicon.
According to Intel, Medfield has been optimized for both low power and high performance and is projected to deliver long use-time, rich media and gaming, and advanced imaging capabilities. The new Medfield/Cloverview SoCs, which will hit production late in 2011, will enable sub-9mm tablets that weigh less than 1.5 pounds.