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Intel Portables Hardware

Intel Demos Phone and Tablet In New Mobile Chip Push 99

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the we-can-make-it-smaller dept.
holy_calamity writes "Intel is making another assault on the mobile processor market, showing off a prototype phone and a tablet using its newest mobile processor Medfield. The company claims that products based on the chips will appear in the first half of next year. There's reason to believe that Intel might get somewhere this time. Its chipsets traditionally comprise three separate chips, a design that guzzles power. Medfield introduces an all-in-one chip, mirroring the power efficient design of the ARM-based chips that run smart phones and tablets in the market today."
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Intel Demos Phone and Tablet In New Mobile Chip Push

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  • by bogaboga (793279) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @01:11PM (#38451004)

    Surely, it is no longer the "Intel Inside" mantra we had become so used to seeing and hearing in the late 90s and early 2000s. Agree?

  • by Baloroth (2370816) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @01:44PM (#38451370)

    The prevailing difference is it isn't an ARM chip. It is an x86 chip, meaning off-the-shelf x86 programs and OSes should run on it. Getting an x86 processor below the performance/power threshold of an ARM chip (while keeping it small enough to fit in a phone) is a pretty major breakthrough.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @01:50PM (#38451438)

    Apart from just rooting for different companies as if they were in a horse race, which seems to be a popular pastime in the press and blogosphere,

    I'm always up for making fun of fanbois. But on reflection, I think rooting for companies is a better pasttime than rooting for professional sports. When it comes down to brass tacks, multi-billion dollar organizations like the NFL, NBA, etc are nothing more than bread and circuses. At least what these companies do has the potential to make a significant difference in people's daily lives.

  • by Necroman (61604) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @01:54PM (#38451490)

    If you have ever touched the Android SDK, you learn very quickly that doing development on a desktop is rather painful. The main reason is their dev test environment completely emulates an ARM processor (on top of your desktop x86 system), which is extremely CPU intensive. If we get android running x86 (there are already a number of people out there working towards this), we can then do our testing in an x86 based simulator, which will be much easier on desktop system.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @02:13PM (#38451698)

    This is not true.

    ARM is more power efficient because it has a simpler ISA which requires much less logic to execute. Intel chips take CISC instructions, and have a pile of optimization and translation logic to turn instructions into smaller micro-code RISC instructions. This is all necessary just to support a legacy ISA. ARM chips don't have this problem, at least to the same extreme.

  • by lister king of smeg (2481612) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @02:19PM (#38451746)

    it is not that they are going to run the desktop software unaltered but they can recycle most of the code and simply rewrite the gui rather than rewrite from scratch

  • by asliarun (636603) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @02:42PM (#38452034)

    Dunno, I remember Centrino being a very good mobile processor line back in the day. I'm more surprised they didn't enter the market until now, maybe it's because they've been dominating the desktop market pretty hard? I have a hard time recommending AMD with a straight face nowadays for desktops... haven't read too much about what came in the past few months, I know AMD released something decent, but all they're doing is joining in on the party, not starting one there.

    They didn't enter the market because they rested on their laurels like they often do, and also got completely blindsided by how quickly smartphones and tablet computing took over the world. Intel is a great company in many respects, but too often relies on a kick in the pants to get moving. Traditionally, AMD has done the kicking like they did with x64 and Athlon, which is why Intel got blindsided when the whipping came from ARM. They responded eventually to AMD with Centrino, Merom/Conroe/Woodcrest, and eventually with Quickpath and Nehalem, and AMD is still recovering.

    They are finding it harder to do the same with ARM because both companies are moving in different directions - ARM has an extremely low power and low performance architecture while Intel's x86 is extremely high power and high performance. Plus, Intel has to deal legacy support in every subsequently new "tock" which is why x86 improvement will always remain evolutionary in nature. ARM also found it much easier to scale up its performance at a similar power envelope while Intel has found it much harder to scale down its power consumption while maintaining adequate performance.

    Atom was probably the first x86 redesign that targeted power consumption first and only then performance. Even with this design goal, it only managed to scale down to single digit wattage while ARM operates in the sub-watt to milliwatt range. This is still a crucial difference - it is the difference between the weight and size of a netbook sized laptop and a handheld device. On top of this, ARM has been steadily integrating more and more peripheral chips back into the chip while keeping the same power envelope, which makes it even simpler and more attractive to device manufacturers.

    Anyway, rambling aside, I suspect that Intel gave up the race for a brief period of time and instead waited for its manufacturing process to shrink to a level (22nm) where it could finally combine its process node lead with the Atom architecture to reach the sub-watt power level. It still hasn't got there, but it will - by 2013. Don't count them out, and I say this mainly because Intel is still the only surviving company that still designs AND manufactures its own chips. The advantages of this kind of vertical integration is huge. Companies love to talk about outsourcing everything but there are significant advantages to being vertically integrated as well. To digress slightly, look at how mainframes continue to survive and thrive in this age of commodity computing.

    It is also interesting to reflect that this fortuitously coincides with Microsoft's Win 8 release and MSFT's own struggle to compete in tablet and handheld computing. Again, their true credible answer will be Windows 9 if not Windows 8. I suspect that at least in the tablet playing field, Win 8 will be a very credible competitor, and Win 9 will probably merge back almost fully with x86 architecture. The allure of x86 and its backward compatibility should not be underestimated. Legacy app support is extremely attractive for enterprise IT even if it is not so much so for normal consumers.

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