Intel's dream of x86 CPUs inside smartphones closer to reality

Intel logoIntel's dream of getting x86 processors into smartphones is almost a reality. At Intel's keynote presentation at CES, Liu Jun, president of Lenovo's mobile Internet division, announced the Lenovo K800 smartphone built on Intel's "Medfield" Atom platform. Boasting a 4.5" 720p screen, HSPA+ support, and running Android 4.0, the phone will be available in China from the second quarter of 2012. Inside, the processor is the Intel Atom Z2460 with 21Mbps HSPA+ connectivity on the China Unicom network from Intel's XMM 6260 chipset.

Lenovo has also been showing off its IdeaPad K2110, a 10" Android 4.0 tablet again powered by Medfield.

The K800 isn't the only Medfield design win. Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha announced that Motorola and Intel had entered into a "multiyear, multidevice strategic partnership," with Motorola's first Atom-powered phones due to ship in the second half of this year.

Intel claimed that its single core, two-thread 1.6 GHz "Medfield" Atom processors offered better performance and lower power consumption than unspecified ARM processors in unspecified popular Android phones. The company says that it has both tuned Android to work optimally on its hardware, and worked with third-party developers to ensure that their applications are optimized.

Android apps written using the Android NDK (which produces native ARM code instead of the processor-independent Java bytecode used by most Android apps) will also run on x86 Android phones; the company was vague about the details, but implied that it had created some kind of emulator or something similar that will enable native ARM applications to run seamlessly. Intel claims that at launch, about 90 percent of native applications (which make up about 25 percent of apps in the Android Market) will run correctly.

Ultrabooks also got a mention, with a quick look of Dell's new XPS 13, the company's first Ultrabook: a 13", 2.99 lb laptop that Dell says is only marginally bigger than an 11" machine.

As well as demonstrating the Lenovo handset and tablet, Intel CEO Paul Otellini showed a range of Intel reference devices in a variety of form factors. These included a Medfield smartphone, a tablet using Clover Trail (the two-core, four-thread tablet-oriented counterpart to Medfield), and an Ivy Bridge Ultrabook with a flip screen to allow it to be converted to a slate form factor.

Ivy Bridge's substantially upgraded integrated GPU was demonstrated with a game of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. On Monday the company gave a demonstration of Ivy Bridge running a Direct3D 11 application that turned out to be a pre-recorded video, though the company has since repeated the demonstration, this time without prerecording the video. Judging by the barely competent play style, the Modern Warfare 3 demo was legitimate.

Otellini took great care to explain that Intel-powered Windows 8 tablets would be able to run the "4 million" Windows applications that are out there—that only x86 tablets would give this compatibility. This is the biggest thing setting Intel tablets apart from ARM-powered ones, and Intel is making sure that everyone is well aware of the difference.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Atom, CES, CPUs, Intel, mobile phones

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