Intel: Medfield ‘Step in Right Direction,’ Says MPR

Intel: Medfield ‘Step in Right Direction,’ Says MPR





Linley Gwennap, editor of the venerable microprocessor pub Microprocessor Report, or MPR, penned an interesting item yesterday on what was learned about Intel’s (INTC) “Atom Z2460” processor for smartphones, which has been code-named Medfield, which was formally unveiled last week during CEO Paul Otellini‘s keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Gwennap notes that Intel’s processor will clock in at 1.6 gigahertz and will remain within the power envelope of current generation processors based on ARM Holdings‘s (ARMH) “Corex-A9” CPU, at 1 watt or less. In fact, the processor may even be more power-efficient than some more recent ARM-based chips, such as Nvidia‘s (NVDA) “Tegra 3” quad-core part.

And so Gwennap concludes Intel has “got it right” with this third Atom generation.

The problem is, the chip is no more powerful than those other chips, and processors from ARM’s partners that use the newer “Cortex-A15” CPU, or similar CPUs such as Qualcomm’s (QCOM) “Krait,” will eclipse the Z2460 later this year.

So this is not the chip that will save Intel’s smartphone efforts, writes Gwennap.

But with Intel headed toward definite process advantages in 22-nanometer production, plus its “Tri-Gate” three dimensional transistors, Gwennap concludes Intel has taken “a step in the right direction,” and that the new process technologies may add the winning performance advantage needed to make the low-power Atom a hit in phones.

Some critics say that we’ve heard this story before:

Moorestown was supposed to be Intel’s foot in the smartphone door, and Medfield was supposed to be the real deal. To maintain its market momentum, the company must deliver the next two Atom generations on schedule, achieving a sizable performance lead over 28nm ARM-based processors. With Medfield, Intel has proven that it can deliver a competitive smartphone processor while maintaining x86 compatibility.

The company still needs to prove that it can deliver a superior one.



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