Intel has started demonstrating its new Atom chip (codenamed Medfield) in a smartphone reference design. That’s the phone that has been shown for 1 second during the IDF keynote, and according to MIT Technology Review, the reference design is working very well on Ice Cream Sandwich, aka ICS/Android 4.0. On the tablet side, it looks like Intel and ICS is a winning combination, as it was “noticeably better” than ARM+Honeycomb (Android 3.x) according to those who tried it. It seems clear to me that Android 4.0 has a lot to do with the improvements, as it fixes many of the shortcomings of Android 3.x. We will need to see an apples-to-apples comparison, but this is encouraging.
That said, Intel’s mobile efforts have never been short in performance. It is usually the battery life that was the real trouble for Intel. This time is different says Intel, and the company is confident that its latest design is even competitive with the best out there. Stephen Smith (VP of Intel’s Architecture Group), not only says that Intel’s latest design beats a mysterious “top 3” competitors in terms of power consumption, he also mentions that products using Intel’s Medfield architecture would appear in the first half of 2012.
By that time, Qualcomm should be sampling its next-generation “Krait” quad-core offering, and NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 quad-core chip should be already shipping in many products. Intel free press has published a post with interesting information about the mobile effort at Intel.