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MWC 2013: Intel Unveils New Atom CPUs for Smartphones and Tablets

February 24, 2013 - Written By Norman Yan

Intel, the world’s largest chipmaker hasn’t had too much success when it comes to designing chips for smartphones and tablets, with the previous generation ‘Medfield’ and ‘Clover Trail’ Atom processors falling short of expectations when compared to the ARM chips offered by companies such as Qualcomm.

Intel’s increasing focus on the mobile space is a result of falling PC sales, and ever-increasing sales of smartphones and tablets, which are expected to hit half a billion units a year by 2015. Despite the resources at their disposal, Intel faces some stiff competition from ARM based architectures due to their high-efficiency, low power technology that is essential for small lightweight portable devices.

In order to compete against the established ARM based chips, Intel needs to release something that is both powerful, but also energy-efficient and they claim they’ve done just that. Intel has announced the new ‘Clover Trail+’ system on a chip today at MWC and promises world-beating performance for a buttery smooth, glitch-free user interface for Android devices. Intel claims the latest generation of Atom chips will have double the CPU performance of the previous generation and three times the graphical capabilities, while still remaining competitive in terms of power consumption.

The chip is also said to feature Intel’s own 4G LTE chips that are both smaller and more efficient than that of the competition. The inclusion of LTE capability is a sign that Intel is aiming at high-end premium devices, while the development of their own 4G chips provides competition to Qualcomm’s effective monopoly over LTE technology. As for the actual CPU, it will be using Intel’s refined 32-nanometer manufacturing process with speeds from 1.2GHz up to 2GHz with a PowerVR SGX 544 GPU, which is regarded as one of the fastest mobile GPUs on the market. Some people have raised concerns over the use of a dual-core design for ‘Clover Trail+’, however Intel will be using their advanced hyper-threading technology, which means the dual-core will simulate the performance of a quad-core design by adding an extra thread to each processing core.

Other features available include support for 16 megapixel cameras, and the ability to capture panorama photos quicker than ever before. Intel is also working on advance security measures for their chips partnering up with multiple companies including McAfee, Symantec, Visa and MasterCard.

Intel will be shipping its LTE chips to customers now, while the current partners for the Atom chips include ASUS, Acer, Lave and Lenovo with more partners expected to adopt the Intel platform by the holiday season with the expected introduction of ‘Bay Trail’ chips along with a true quad-core design along with a 22-nanometer design.