Intel Shows Off Its Smart Phone and Tablet for 2012
The rest of the story: Intel’s part of a consortium of companies that have been trying to weave the patchwork quilt pieces of consumer wireless networks into a wideband whole cloth that talks to things as well as people. That means not just embedding their wireless chips in laptops, but also a variety of consumer devices.
The era of the personal computer dawned thanks in no small part to the chip maker Intel. But the company has been only a spectator to the rise of smart phones and tablets in recent years. These mobile devices use chips based on designs licensed by the U.K. company ARM, which deliver the power efficiency the powerful, compact gadgets require.
Intel is about to fight back.
Last week, Technology Review tried out prototype smart phones and tablets equipped with Intel’s latest mobile chip, dubbed Medfield, and running the Android mobile operating system created by Google. “We expect products based on these to be announced in the first half of 2012,” says Stephen Smith, vice president of Intel’s architecture group.
Known as “reference designs,” the devices are sent out to inspire and instruct manufacturers interested in building products around Intel’s latest technology. “They can use as much or as little of the reference design as they like,” says Smith, who hinted that the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show in January could bring news of gadgets in which Intel’s chips will appear.
Intel’s Medfield is the latest in its “Atom” line of mobile chips. So far none of them have seriously threatened the dominance of ARM-based chips in mobile devices, in part because they are more power-hungry. However, the new chip represents a significant technological step toward lower power consumption.