Intel have spent a long time in getting there Atom processors ready for mobile and inside consumer products and 2012 is the year that they finally managed it. Orange in the UK will be shipping the San Diego packing a 1.6Ghz Atom SoC and Motorola will be bringing out products with the new processors from Intel later in the year thanks to their partnership announced at this year's CES.
The general consensus of this new processor from Intel was that it offers great speed and battery life and decent graphics potential. However, unlike many of today's biggest hitters in the mobile world the System on Chip in question is only packing a single-core processor. Nvidia, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments et al have had dual-core processors out there for some time and in the case of Nvidia, are actually shipping quad-core processors. The idea that Intel, the company that dominates the desktop space near single-handedly would bring a single-core processor seemed like a mis-step however, Intel are no stranger to entering new markets as such, they must know what there doing here.
Mike Bell – Intel's GM of the Mobile and Communications Group – has come out and stated that Android as a whole isn't ready for multi-core processors. Saying that "I've taken a look at the multiple core implementations in the market, and frankly, in a thermal and/or power constrained environment – what has been implemented – it isn't obvious to me you really get the advantage for the size and the cost of what's going into that part,". It seems that that Bell isn't impressed with multi-core devices out there in the wild right now and is more than likely the reason that Intel brought their single-core Medfield SoC to market. Bell also had this to say about chip vendors "Android does not make as effective use of multiple cores as it could, and I think – frankly – some of this work could be done by the vendors who create the SoCs, but they just haven't bothered to do it." Thus pointing the blame at both the vendors as well as Android as a whole.
If anything, Bell was clear to say that he believed current multi-core implementations across devices on the market was poor and that the advantages against the cost in production and often battery life isn't worth it. For someone like myself, who has firmly believed that more processing threads meant more power. Intel have implemented a form of their Hyperthreading technology on their Medfield SoC, enabling the chip to deal with multiple threads and it it seems relatively powerful as the XOLO X900 – based off Intel's reference design and launched in India – performed very well in benchmarks. I have a number of Android devices and my single-core Nexus S lags wildly behind my dual-core Tegra 2 tablet however, we don't know whether Nvidia were one of the vendors that Bell was taking a shot at here.
If there's one thing that's certain here it's that Intel mean business in the mobile world and aren't going to sit in the corner idling away, Intel have long been a company to continuously push the boundaries of chip design and performance. If they can bring this to mobile in the way they do on the desktop side of things then ARM might well have a fight on its hands.
[Source: The Inquirer]