Intel Focusing on Mobile Prototypes, SOC-Based Atom CPU
The MIT Technology Review recently got its hands on some new Intel “reference design” mobile Android devices running Intel’s Atom CPUs. Could these devices mark Intel’s first successful entrance into the mobility market, and what are the benefits to having Intel CPUs in phones? I have a few ideas …
The very sexy looking device pictured may be a computer rendering, but according to the MIT Technology Review, it’s a very real device the editors have played with. It features Intel’s Medfield Atom CPU, a system-on-a-chip style silicon CPU that, according to Intel, is less power-consuming than any previous Atom CPU.
According to Technology Review, the device “was similar in dimensions to the iPhone 4 but noticeably lighter, probably because the case was made with more plastic and less glass and metal.” Even though Intel outfitted the device with a now-outdated Gingerbread Android OS, the device apparently streamed and processed “Blu-Ray quality video” and had snappy web browsing and app responsiveness thanks to “circuits” uniquely designed for Android.
Intel isn’t shopping around this unnamed “reference” phone; rather, it’s shopping around the CPU inside of it, hoping to entice OEMs to consider Intel as a source for mobile processors inside new designs. Will it pay off? I’m really not sure. There are no wide-scale real-world benchmarks and certainly no solid specifications on the CPU. Realistically, if the new Atom SOC doesn’t impress, there will be no compelling reason to switch over to a new design to accommodate the new chip, no reason to deal with an x86-compiled version of Android and definitely no reason to stop using ARM CPUs altogether. Intel may have to dig a little deeper to find an OEM willing to take a gamble on an Intel-based device.
Personally, I think Intel could impress us much more with a Windows 8 device than an Android one. But that’s something we’ll have to wait around for when Windows 8 tablets hit the scene later this year.