This past year we've seen a whole lot of innovation in the mobile processor space with Cortex A15 processors becoming the norm towards the end of the year and Qualcomm – thanks to their Snapdragon S4 range – reach the top. 2013 is certainly set up to be a year choc full of new processors hitting our pockets and coming to our tablets. Samsung's dual-core Exynos 5250 based on Cortex A15 has arrived and their quad-core version, the Exynos 5440, may well be shipping in products like the Galaxy S IV. Nvidia's Tegra 4 is also coming to market in 2013 with Cortex A15 packed in and with it even more competition for Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4 Pro.
One company that we can't seem to forget about when we talk about processors is Intel and while they haven't had the dent in the mobile market that they were looking for, they've at least made their presence known and for the first time, in what seems like forever, actually shipped a smartphone processor. The Motorola RAZR i that's on sale in Europe is the first originally designed phone to come with an Intel CPU and Motorola have put it to good use. While it might only be a single-core CPU it keeps up just fine with the Dual-Core Snapdragon S4 found in its American cousin – the RAZR M. Apparently, battery life is a little better as well, which is surprising considering the chip used is produced using a 32 nanometer fabrication process.
In San Francisco there is a conference being held – the International Electron Devices Meeting – that brings together all of the major chip manufacturers together. Not just those that design the chips, a la Qualcomm, but more the Intels, Samsungs and the TSMCs of the industry. It's here that Intel announced that their 22 nanometer fabrication process would be used to make mobile processors, just like it is for desktop processors and that they will be "produced in volume". This could mean that Intel have some more buyers for their chips lined up for 2013 but, even if Intel are just trying to stay relevant, this is still a positive move for the mobile space.
With chips built on a 22nm fabrication there'll be more power efficient chips coming to our phones and a presumed performance boost as well. It's interesting to see that Intel are still committed to bringing their chips to the mobile market and if it brings some much needed competition to the ARM platform then I'm all for it. The more competition in any space, the better.
It's no secret that Intel's chips aren't anywhere near as prevalent as those from Nvidia, Samsung and Qualcomm – what would make you consider a phone running an Intel processor?