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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  • 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
  • ThomasS31 - Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - link

    The real deal here is x86 compatibility with Windows 8 coming you can run all you apps from your phones, tablets or high and PCs... it will all work on the intel ecosystem. Evey your old apps.

    That is a hugh deal vs the ARM ecosystem. You will have Windows 8 ofc, but some old apps simply won't work.

    And on 22nm very soon, this will be a killer design in my opinion.
  • french toast - Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - link

    Thankyou for posting this insight into Medfield, you always give the best in depth analysis on the internet, usually without all the biased, speculatory fud.

    However i have noticed that you have a slight bias towards Intel, nothing major but you seem to give them more benefit of the doubt than they can prove.
    You stated thus;
    '' Even today it appears to deliver better CPU performance than anything on the market, despite only having a single core''

    This in no way proves that Medfield is a faster chip than say Exynos 4210 from last year.
    In fact as you state that Atom is the same architecture, i would say evidence says that even tegra 2 is faster according to these benchmarks ;

    The 2 Intel sourced benchmarks that you sourced do not give the complete picture to go drawing such conclusions, either about the platform or the architecture.
    The cortex A9 is at minimum the same performance clock for clock according to more complete benchmarks i linked above, Multi threading which does have uses in Android and even webrowsing/games will be superior on 2 A9s, also if you put both on the same process the A9s will be substantially smaller and consume substantially less power.

    Other web site that i have read said that the Medfield reference phone was slightly choppy/laggy when scrolling the home sreen, which they noted doesn't happen on Exynos.
    Which is clocked lower and will be 18months older by the time Medfiled releases.

    Some else pointed out about which gingerbread update is it running? ove at xda forum they report ICS gains in performance on 2.3.7 for example....

    Whilst it is interesting to put up this Intel promotion, it does not conclude that this would have dominated android last year at all, it seems at first glance that it would have been COMPETITIVE last year. there is no proof that an Atom is even on par with A9/same clock speed let alone Krait.

    After all the excellant articles i have read on this site, i expected a little better too be honest.
  • BSMonitor - Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - link

    Are you completely mental?? You are comparing miniITX platforms running Ubuntu to SoC's running Android. Your benchmarks are completely meaningless. Reply
  • french toast - Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - link

    No there not, they are the only comparable benchmarks that put both architectures through their paces, if you level the clocks the A9s smoke the Atoms...Anand says him self that the Achitecture remains the same.
    There certainly more comparable than this Intel marketing blitz.

    The power point slides above say that Medfield will have substantially more gpu performance than a iphone 4s,samsung galaxy we know its a sgx540@400 i highly doubt it somehow.
    My point is the tests are provided by intel, or run on limited benchmarks that dont test cpu LOAD scenarios, that are not multithreaded, not standardised software, and the atoms are running at a higher clock rate.

    No real world power consumption tests were done, yet bizarly, Anand draws the conclusion that it is the superior architecture and would have 'dominated' android last year... i dont see it that way myself.
  • guilmon19 - Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - link

    why is it meaningless? in the intel benchmark they were comparing android 4.0 to 2.3, and from what iv'e read they're very different. While all the miniITX platforms in the other benchmark use a consistent base for all of the hardware by using the same OS. Plus a miniITX is pretty similar to a SoC. The only difference is that SoC are usually smaller and more integrated, but other then that they use very similar hardware Reply
  • french toast - Thursday, January 12, 2012 - link

    I agree, the medfields were running on android 2.3.7 which is heavilly optimised compared to the software that some of the others were running on, that alone makes it void.

    One of the websites ran a quadrant score on the reference platform and got an impressive 3791 how ever the galaxy note, which runs a 1.4ghz exynos and has a core idle. gets that puts it into perspective.

    Anand has got a very good reputation for cutting out all the crap and just looking at things in a very objective/logical/technical way, with out jumping the gun and making false assumptions, i hope this continues and we dont see this Intel spin anymore.
  • halcyon - Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - link

    Why don't you benchmark it against Qualcomm S4 A15 Quad?

    Or the next gen Samsung A15 quads?

    Both of those will ship *BEFORE* Medfield devices actually ship.

    And they will have lower LTE (not just 3G) idle, highe GPU speeds, and equal/higher perf clock-for-clock.

    It looks like Intel *almost* made it this year, but not quite.

    Oh well, perhaps the next revision...
  • BSMonitor - Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - link

    Because there is no A15 Quad fully functioning reference phone. Weird. Reply
  • Lucian Armasu - Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - link

    Does Atom stand a chance? You say it will be out by the end of the year. We should have at least 2, if not 3 chips based on Cortex A15 by then, one by Samsung at 2 Ghz each core, one by TI (OMAP 5 at 2.5 Ghz), and possibly another one by Samsung that also uses big.Little together with Cortex A7, for even lower power consumption.

    How will this single core Atom processor be competitive with one of those dual-core processors?

    And that's without even counting the dual-core/quad-core Krait chips, which if I'm not mistaken, you've already said they should be more powerful than Atom.

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