Mobile World Congress is always full of announcements of new products; some are surprises while others are just confirmation of the rumors that have swirled around in the industry for months. For some time now Intel has had great difficulty getting their foot in the door of the mobile world, only having a few tablets or budget devices here and there, but nothing major until now. Announcing their first 64-bit LTE-ready processors at Mobile World Congress today, Intel will be releasing these new processors sometime in 2014. Merrifield, the code name for the first processor, is built specifically for mobile devices, and will be found in devices made by Lenovo, Dell, Asus and Foxconn. In fact this partnership might be even bigger news for Intel than having their first mobile 64-bit chipset out in the wild, as they’ve made multi-year agreements with these companies to use Intel chipsets, meaning that while we probably won’t be seeing Intel’s chipsets in the next Galaxy phone, they will be more readily available on the market than ever before.
Intel’s 2.13 GHz Merrifield (Atom Z3480) uses Intel’s 22nm Silvermont architecture, and packs a powerful PowerVR series 6 graphics processor on board. Seeing a Power VR GPU in an Android phone is quite refreshing considering the dominance that Qualcomm has seen with their Snapdragon and Adreno lines. Intel has packed on a dedicated Intel Integrated Sensor Solution onto the Merrifield SoC (XMM 7160) which allows the OS and apps to read important sensor data on the phone even when the phone is in a low power state. If you’re confused by this think about the Moto X and how it’s got always-on voice without killing battery life and you’ll have an idea of what this can do. We should start seeing devices with this chipset somewhere in Q2 2014.
Intel also announced a second chipset, destined for the second half of 2014, called the Moorefield, which uses the same Intel Atom Z3480 processor as Merrifield but packs on two additional cores, more GPU power, faster memory support and bumps up the speed to 2.3GHz. This chipset, the XMM 7260, includes an LTE-Advanced chipset, meaning a full 300mbps theoretical throughput on networks that support the tech. While additional details are scarce we can expect to hear more about it as we get closer to the second half of this year. Right now all eyes are on Lenovo, Dell, Asus and Foxconn for getting devices out with these new chipsets, and it will be interesting to see if Intel can make 2014 the year they finally catch on in the mobile market.