Details about Intel's Medfield chip emerge

Details have emerged about Intel's upcoming Medfield chip platform for smartphones, which is due for release in 2011 and will succeed the company's existing Moorestown platform, which was originally announced in May.

The Medfield platform will include a power-efficient version of the Atom processor, which will be integrated inside a chip code-named Penwell, according to a document originally posted on Intel's website, which is still available on Google cache.

In a separate document on its website dated Aug. 9, Intel has also hinted at some of Penwell's Atom-based microprocessors running at speeds of 1.80GHz and 1.86GHz. Current CPUs in the Moorestown platform chips -- also called the Z600-series chips -- can run at up to 1.5GHz for smartphones and up to 1.9GHz for tablets.

Intel spokeswoman Claudine Mangano declined to comment on details surrounding the Medfield chips.

"Intel has not formally announced the product, so any data ... is very preliminary and for enabling purposes in a non-product stage," Mangano said. The new chips will deliver substantial reductions in size and power consumption compared to previous product generations, she added.

Intel has long talked about its desire to enter the market for smartphones and mobile devices that demand smaller and more power-efficient chips. Most smartphones today come with power-efficient chips that include processors designed by Arm, such as recently launched devices like Motorola's Droid X, Apple's iPhone 4 and HTC's Evo.

Intel has been consistently driving down size and power drawn by its Atom chips, but has been unable to compete with Arm on power efficiency. The Moorestown platform is designed for tablets and high-end smartphones, and the Medfield platform could be a step forward in the company's efforts to better compete with Arm. The company has already announced it is developing new Atom processors for tablets code-named Oak Trail.

The Penwell system-on-chip will integrate many components and be much smaller than its predecessors, according to Intel's now-removed document. It will provide improved battery life to devices and require much less battery power, though numbers were not immediately available.

The system-on-chip will deliver four times better graphics compared to its predecessors, according to the document. Intel's Moorestown graphics core is capable of encoding video at 720p and decoding video at a 1080p resolution.

The company has already said that the Medfield chips will be manufactured using the 32-nanometer process, which could help deliver additional power-saving and performance benefits.

Mobile-device sales totaled 326 million units in the second quarter, a 13.8% increase from the second quarter in 2009, according to Gartner. Smartphone sales accounted for about 19% of the total mobile-device sales, the research firm said.

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