Final Words

Intel finally did it. After almost five years of talking about getting into mobile phone form factors, Intel went out and built a reference platform that proved what they've been saying was possible all along. Furthermore, Intel also finally landed a couple of partners who are willing to show their support by incorporating Medfield into their product portfolio. The releases are still a few months away at the earliest (possibly even longer for Motorola) but it's much better news than Intel has ever reported before in this space.

 


Medfield (left 1) vs. Moorestown (right 2)

The partnerships aren't out of pity either: Medfield is fast. I firmly believe had it been released a year ago it would have dominated the Android smartphone market from the very start. Even today it appears to deliver better CPU performance than anything on the market, despite only having a single core. GPU performance is still not as fast as what's in the A5 but it's competitive with much of the competition today, and I fully expect the dual-core version of Medfield to rectify this problem.

Based on the data Intel shared with us as well, the x86 power problem appears to be a myth - at least when it comes to Medfield. I'm still not fully convinced until we're able to test a Medfield based phone ourselves, but power efficiency at the chip level doesn't seem to be a problem.

Medfield and the Atom Z2460 are a solid starting point. Intel finally has a chip that they can deliver to the market and partners to carry it in. Intel also built a very impressive reference platform that could lead to some very interesting disruptions in the market.

While I'd like to say that Intel's Medfield team can now breathe a sigh of relief, their work is far from over - especially with more competitive ARM based SoCs showing up later this year. I'm really interested to see where this goes in the next 12 months...

ARM Compatibility: Binary Translation
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  • Wilco1 - Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - link

    For single-threaded benchmarks clockspeed is the only thing that matters. I agree performance per watt is far more important in the real world. This is why dual or quad cores give better performance per watt than a single high clocked core. I don't believe ARM cores are thermally limited, Tegra 3 has 4 cores at 1.3GHz, and even faster SoCs are coming soon. Reply
  • milli - Thursday, January 12, 2012 - link

    "For single-threaded benchmarks clockspeed is the only thing that matters"

    Ever heard of issue-width or instruction re-ordering? Ever heard of MIPS/Mhz? If you have, how can you say such a thing?
    Reply
  • Wilco1 - Thursday, January 12, 2012 - link

    IPC matters of course but only at similar frequencies. And frequency differences are typically much larger than IPC differences. For example 2-way out-of-order execution gives around 25% better IPC than 2-way in-order, however the frequency difference in the article is 33-60%. So given a large enough difference in frequency, you would expect an in-order to beat out-of-order. Reply
  • milli - Thursday, January 12, 2012 - link

    You can't just paste performance numbers on a cpu based on it's high level architecture. Your example might be right for cpu A & B but you can't apply it just to every cpu.
    Next you'll tell me that a Cortex A15 is as fast clock for clock as a Phenom just because they are both 3-wide OoO architectures? Rest assured that a K10.5 core will be more than double as fast as an A15 (and i'm sure, up to 5-6x faster).
    Reply
  • french toast - Thursday, January 12, 2012 - link

    I can tell you now that cortex a15 wont be a million miles off clock for clock,even if it doesn't beat it.

    Obviously cache sizes/latency as well as bandwidth will play a part, but cortex a15 will be competitive with phenom, on a tiny fraction of the die space and power consumption.

    cortex-a9 is nearly on par with a ULV core 2 duo clock for clock as difficult as that seems.
    Reply
  • milli - Thursday, January 12, 2012 - link

    Oh french toast, I've seen your comments here before. You just crack me up. Such a fanboi. I didn't even know there was such a thing as an ARM fanboi but you prove me wrong.
    FYI, an ULV C2D is around 3 to 10x faster than an A9 (clock for clock) and an A15 will get nowhere near a Phenom. Sorry to burst your bubble.
    Reply
  • kaiyao - Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - link

    While this chip for phones is finally out, does anyone know if Intel going to release any tablet chips anytime soon? Perhaps a dual/quad core version of this chip?

    Because Intel should really push out a chip competitive with ARM when Windows 8 comes out. I imagine if the chip performs as well as an ARM (in terms of performance and power efficiency), and if Intel matches the pricing of ARM chips, Windows 8 tablet manufacturers would definitely choose x86 over ARM to advertise compatibility with legacy applications.

    I remember that the previous "mobile chip" from Intel did not work with Windows 7 due to something along the lines of the lack of PCI bus support, but since Microsoft can port Windows 8 to ARM, clearly this PCI bus is not an issue (if Microsoft modifies Win8 a bit). I presume application code will not be affected by the presence of the PCI bus.
    Reply
  • guilmon19 - Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - link

    I read somewhere, sorry i don't have a link, that intel was going to release a dual core version by the final quarter Reply
  • Mumrik - Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - link

    Page 4: "and I wouldn't be surprised if more aren't on the way."

    Isn't that the opposite of what you meant Anand?
    Reply
  • reenie49 - Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - link

    The numbers from Medfield seem competitive with current Arm A9 SOC's , but these are Intel numbers and until the phones are out then we just don t really know , Intel has promised before . In a few months A15 chips at 28 nm will be out and they "should" post higher performance and/or lower power than A9 so will be infront again . But performance is only half the battle , what about cost ? Is Medfield as cheap as Arm ? Intel likes big profit margins and cripples the low end to protect the high end , It is used to charging 60 dollars plus per chip not sub 20 dollars, does Intel really want to be in an arms race with samsung etc ? Will phone manufactures be happy to be tied to one chip producer and pay more for the privilege ? With Arm , they have a choice of 3 or 4 different SOC's or can build there own . So as it has been said before, Intel will have to be alot better to be a reason to ditch Arm . Think it will be another 2 to 3 years before we see a winner in top end smartphones and tablets . I think Arm will still dominate the low end phones with A7 etc, can t see Intel wanting to be in the sub 10 dollar chip market . Has Arm announced its successor to A15 ? Reply

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