Intel: Big tablet, smartphone move for 2012?

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

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.