Intel: Big tablet, smartphone move for 2012?

Intel: Big tablet, smartphone move for 2012?

Summary: It remains to be seen if Intel can finally crack the smartphone and mobile markets, but at least some folks are becoming more optimistic.

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Intel is showing off prototype smartphones and tablets running the latest version of its Atom chips and there appears to be a slight perception shift that the company can compete.

MIT's Technology Review got a preview of Intel's reference designs. Intel's aim is to challenge the ARM architecture, which has run away with the mobile race. The chip giant is expected to offer more details about Medfield, its next Atom processor, and possibly announce design wins.

Technology's Review money paragraph goes like this:

Previous Atom designs spread the work of a processor across two or three chips, a relatively power-intensive scheme that originated many years ago in Intel's PC chips. But now Intel has finally combined the core functions of its processor designs into one chunk of silicon.

These prototypes were running Android and browsed the Web well.

The MIT report is worth noting following a Jefferies research note earlier this week. Jefferies analyst Mark Lipacis argued that it would be foolish to count out Intel against ARM. The case went like this:

  • Many folks have counted out Intel on mobile;
  • Intel can offer a cheaper, more powerful smartphone processor;
  • Intel has the manufacturing heft to outduel ARM players.

Lipacis said:

We use web browsing as a proxy for a typical smartphone application against which to benchmark mobile processors. Using web browsing benchmark data from Anandtech, Intel and Linley, we show that with Medfield, Intel may offer a more powerful CPU at competitive power usage levels, as compared to ARM-based competitors.

The caveat here is that a better processor---or OS or any technology---doesn't necessarily equate to market share. ARM has a massive lead. In addition, Apple and Samsung have their own processor technologies.

Related: Intel's Otellini: Windows 8 'one of best things' for company

Over time, Intel can lower its die size, offer better performance and power usage and become competitive. In the end, Lipacis thinks Intel can be positioned as a leader in the mobile space.

It remains to be seen if Intel can finally crack the smartphone and mobile markets, but at least some folks are becoming more optimistic.

Topics: Processors, Hardware, Intel, Mobility, Smartphones

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33 comments
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  • Anyone who thought ARMs domination of mobile was more than temporary

    just wasn't paying attention to Intel's roadmap. They have positioned themselves not to merely be competitive but to put a serious smack down on ARM price/perf/watt after a couple more generations and die shrinks. ARM has owned the low perf/power end but their evolution to higher perf has been at a glacial pace. No longer will they get to coast. They will be facing Intel's stacked transistors shortly and will quickly find themselves trailing the pack if they don't come with an A game that so far even apple hasn't shown.
    Johnny Vegas
    • RE: Intel: Big tablet, smartphone move for 2012?

      @Johnny Vegas You may be right if you're taking into account CPU-only performance. But performance these days is not as dependent upon CPU performance as it used to be. The GPU plays a big part & currently Intel doesn't exactly make the best performing GPU's. PowerVR's Rogue GPU coming out next year will be remarkably fast.

      Plus many of the ARM SOC's, like Apple's A5, use specialized processors for specific tasks (ie: enhancing camera image quality or image stabilization for when taking videos).

      So it will be very interesting to see how Intel tackles all of that. There is no doubt Intel is far from out but they are playing catch-up at the moment.
      smulji
      • RE: Intel: Big tablet, smartphone move for 2012?

        @smulji
        risc is supposed to supplant cisc architecture, according to the risc proponents a glacial age ago. yet, after getting hold of digital ip, intel managed to leapfrog in mhz and performance. no doubt intel can break into the mobile space, they have so much resources (money, brains, technology, and ips). they may not be as successful as M$ vs. netscape, but close!!!
        kc63092@...
    • RE: Intel: Big tablet, smartphone move for 2012?

      @Johnny Vegas

      Yeah and you're speaking like someone from the early 90's when there were lots of people who *might* code in assembly and worry about instruction pipelines existed. Guess what? People don't care about the CPU, it's the apps. Since developers have already spent lots of time cranking out ARM binaries, another platform means redoing all your QA, fixing bugs on account of another processor architecture. Sorry, it's not a default win. Your angle isn't any different than those who evangelize LINUX on the desktop -- yeah it's free... but less than 1% of desktops have LINUX. My point is, technical arguments fall on deaf ears with consumers.
      betelgeuse68
      • It Depends

        @betelgeuse68--Linux is often rejected as it's perceived to be geeky, nerdy, too technically difficult to operate.
        Whether rightly so or wrongly is a separate issue for me here.
        This Intel technology will probably enhance user friendliness, opposite to their Linux perception.
        You say these points are wasted on the average consumer. Not quite; many consumers these days educate themselves per the Net. They seek out and read reviews. Ostensibly, reviewers do concern themselves with technological details. At least in theory.
        Or they inquire of the local Techy or IT person in their circles of friends/acquaintances. Who also ostensibly dispense advice based on their technical take.
        So, the technical aspects are not altogether wasted in these instances. They are passed on by process of osmosis.
        PreachJohn
      • RE: Intel: Big tablet, smartphone move for 2012?

        @PreachJohn

        What on Earth are you on about. Apple uses Linux on iOS, Andorid uses linux.

        How much market share is that... Um, ALL of it.

        come back with a decent argument, then we'll carry on the conversation.
        Bozzer
      • RE: Intel: Big tablet, smartphone move for 2012?

        "What on Earth are you on about. Apple uses Linux on iOS, Andorid uses linux."

        No.

        Apple does not use Linux in iOS any more than any use Linux in OSX.
        Michael Alan Goff
      • RE: Intel: Big tablet, smartphone move for 2012?

        @Michael Alan Goff

        Your completely right they use a modified form of BSD.
        psyco430404
    • RE: Intel: Big tablet, smartphone move for 2012?

      @Johnny Vegas

      Got products? No.

      STFU then.
      Bozzer
      • Why Would I Carry On The Conversation..

        @Bozzer...with you, when you very obviously didn't read or understand one iota of what I actually wrote?
        "come back with a decent argument, then we'll carry on the conversation."
        PreachJohn
    • RE: Intel: Big tablet, smartphone move for 2012?

      @Johnny Vegas

      All the players will crash and burn when Stacked Transistors come into play. Intel is 3 years ahead of the game and with Windows 8 I think MS/Intel are revving up to kill the competition....those are some deep pockets waiting to unfold the next generation of mobile computing!
      Rob.sharp
  • RE: Intel: Big tablet, smartphone move for 2012?

    @ Preachjohn<br><br>"This Intel technology will probably enhance user friendliness, opposite to their Linux perception"<br><br>So what you're saying is that Intel silicon is intrinsically more user friendly? Silicon? More so than the silicon ARM CPUs are fabricated? Sorry but your argument doesn't make sense.

    You may have meant something else, but by omitting qualifications or something concrete as to what you're eluding to, I can only infer what you've said literally. However, I've learned from experience that you're likely trying to make technical arguments. Sorry, it's going to fall on deaf ears - I'm way past that at this point in my life.
    betelgeuse68
    • RE: Intel: Big tablet, smartphone move for 2012?

      @betelgeuse68

      Absolutely, the author of this article is a paid Intel PR man.
      Bozzer
    • What!!!

      @betelgeuse68---Same as i said to---"Bozzer....you very obviously didn't read or understand one iota of what I actually wrote." You both missed my point by a country mile.<br>Mounting your favorite hobbyhorse, riding roughshod ranting, tunnel vision saddled.<br>"I'm way past that at this point in my life." Perhaps you are in dire need to get a (new) life.
      PreachJohn
  • What Intel Wont Tell You Is...

    That battery life is about 5-minutes. Intel and Microsoft are becoming increasingly irrelevant, as the laptop that replaced the PC is beginning to be sidestepped for the mobility of the tablet.

    Non tech consumers can use tablets and smartphones to satisfy most (if not all) of their computing needs. What does all this mean?

    1. You don't need Windows
    2. You don't need Intel

    What that means for consumers using iOS is no more viruses and 2-hour battery life limits.

    Why would anyone break out a laptop, wait ten minutes for it to boot up, let it run hot in their laps, just so they can drain the battery in a couple hours. Maybe 12 years ago but now we're in the 21st century. Microsoft and Intel are stuck in 1999!
    orandy
    • Troll bait

      @orandy

      You apparently don't know how to read a relatively simple graph now do you, Orandy? Obviously, you also haven't heard of Ivy Bridge, Tri-Gate, and 22 nm now have you? I'm no ARM expert, but 2012 and early 2013 appear to be the year(s) that Intel will finally have some serious low-power MID chips coming to market. And, you've heard that W8 will be ARM and Intel compatible, no? And did you see the W8 / SSD demo that booted cold to desktop in 8 seconds? Finally, you're probably either an Apple or Android fanboy, right? You do realize, at least in terms of Intel, that Android is a major target of all these new whiz-bang, low-power chips Intel is on the very of bringing to market, no? And I don't think MS is going anywhere just yet.
      jjworleyeoe
      • RE: Intel: Big tablet, smartphone move for 2012?

        @jjworleyeoe

        Too much emphasis on the word "obviously" and not enough emphasis on the words "actual real life, buy it on the shelf, products" in your rant.

        Come back next year, when you actually have products. Till then, see ya.
        Bozzer
    • You seem to be the one stuck in the past. Intel will outperform on battery

      life. See the chart above? See how they are lower on the power chart than snapdragon and omap? Have you ignored all the demos? They have shown instant on in less than a second in typical use cases, with complete cold boot in 5-8 seconds.
      Johnny Vegas
    • RE: Intel: Big tablet, smartphone move for 2012?

      @orandy

      My Atom powered Win 7 ultimate notebook comes up in about 3 seconds using an SSD from sleep, about 7 seconds from hibernate, and about 25 seconds from cold boot.

      I'm sorry that you are stuck in 1999
      mswift@...
  • Android is Windows Mobile...

    JJWorley.....

    Please learn how to write and spell. Android is a virus nest, Windows 8 will make Vista actually look very nice and who in the hell knows where mobile will be by 2013; but we must wait for Intel and Microsoft to catch up to the year 2010, when the iPad was released?

    I use Apple products because Microsoft let viruses destroy system after system; and thanks to Intel, a $3000 laptop couldn't find enough power to watch a 90-minute movie. I hope these greedy, lazy and non-innovative companies don't make it into the future!
    orandy