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


View All Comments

  • Dribble - Thursday, January 12, 2012 - link

    I see fudzilla managed to get a BenchmarkPi score:
    The HTC Thunderbolt (Snapdragon 1GHz): 888ms
    Lenovo K800 (1.6Ghz Atom): 743ms
    LG Optimus 2X (Tegra 2): 550ms
  • french toast - Thursday, January 12, 2012 - link

    Yea when you get past the Intel marketing and start digging you find its not really thtat special when compared to last years designs. hers some more. Intel medfield 3791 quadrant. samsung galaxy note @1.4ghz 4300+

    If you level the clock speed and use the same software on the ARMs you would get better than this in cafeinemark;

    Add that to the other links i posted earlier, and do some multithreaded tests and the Atom doesn't look that impressive compared to duel core A9s on 40nm...let alone quad core kraits on 28nm...
  • dwade123 - Thursday, January 12, 2012 - link

    Give a a few years and we 'll see Intel dominating this market. Reply
  • Targon - Thursday, January 12, 2012 - link

    This is a single-core an environment that is already going to be dominated by dual-core chips by the time it is released. What is Intel trying to do, emulate Palm, who would announce something that sounds great, then a year later when product is actually shipping, seems pretty weak? Palm died as a result(even though it was under the HP umbrella at the end), and Intel is just following that example of what NOT to do.

    Intel may have process advantages, but Intel doesn't do much when it comes to real innovation.
  • happycamperjack - Thursday, January 12, 2012 - link

    Judging from the BrowserMark and SunSpider, Medfield has tegra 3 beat for about 10% to 30% in a more single threaded application. But in a more threaded application such as photo editing apps, some games and also multitasking, Tegra 3 would come out on top. Not to mention Tegra 3 would probably do a lot better in battery life and 3D games as well.

    But backward compatibility for lower end Windows 8 tablets? Yes please!
  • Lucian Armasu - Friday, January 13, 2012 - link

    A 10% performance different shouldn't be surprising, considering Intel Atom is running at 1.6 Ghz and Tegra 3's first core is running at 1.4 Ghz. This only means that a Cortex A9 core is about as powerful as Atom at the same clock speed. And by the time it's out it will have to compete with Cortex A15, which is twice as powerful as Cortex A9 for the same clock speed. Plus it will be dual core vs the single core Atom. Krait chips should be in the same ballpark as Cortex A15, perhaps a bit weaker, but still much more powerful than Atom.

    As for the compatibility with Windows 8. I don't understand what's the benefit of that? To use programs that are not optimized for touch? Why? If that was such a big deal, you could already use Windows 7 tablets. Whether Microsoft is pushing for ARM tablets, or x86 tablets, they still have to start from scratch, because they need apps that are fully optimized for touch, and not for the mouse. So in this case x86 has no advantage over ARM, at least not more than it already had in the Windows7-era. And if Microsoft were smart, they'd actually push the ARM tablets instead to compete on battery life.
  • happycamperjack - Friday, January 13, 2012 - link

    You don't understand the benefit of backward compatibility?? Are you serious?? How about instant access to biggest libraries of applications ever while Windows 8 apps have time to mature.

    As for the performance of the chip, I was disappointed about Intel's SoC until I realize that it's actually running android 2.3. So it would be more fair to compare the performance against another Android 2.3, Galaxy S II, which benchmarked at half the speed of Intel! But it's GPU is definitely garbage.
  • thunng8 - Friday, January 13, 2012 - link

    The Motorola RAZR is also running 2.3. Reply
  • french toast - Friday, January 13, 2012 - link

    What has been misleading about the Intel pushed benchmarks in this article, is that although the Medfield runs Gingerbread, it also run a heavily updated varient.2.3.7..which according to the boys over at xda, has been optimised to near ICS levels..
    Note that the phones benchmarked against it run stock Gingerbread which can be noticebely slower on older versions.

    Another thing to note, the phones benchmanrked against, also have heavy custom UI skins over the top..aka sense/touchwiz which saps power, hence why uses prefer to root their phone..for that very perforance enhanced reason.
    -Where as the Medfield reference phone does not.

    If you level all software equal, i very much doubt the Medfield would have a lead in any benchmark, and in some cases would likely lose, such as graphics, multhreaded, and battery use scenarios that stress the cpu.

    That is against phones that have been on the market 18months or so by the time Medfield ships AND are lower clocked A9s.
  • CUEngineer - Friday, January 13, 2012 - link

    You guys are hilarious... Obviously there will be an optimized OS version that google and intel worked on, since its using a different ISA then arm, they need to optimize the binaries to do things such as take advantage of instructions intel adds for performance which no ARM IP licenseee company is allowed to do... Any good company will optimize software to run on their hardware to give better results and that is valid...
    Intel has been doing high performance designs for many years now, ARM just designs their IP to work simple and without consuming much power, so it wouldnt be hard to think that intel analyzes certain performance features differently such as handling hits under misses and taking multiple miss requests without bottlenecking the system... an out of order CPU could make this impact less since other instructions might be able to be scheduled while waiting for the miss to be completed..
    Either way all you folks should worry about is how close those power numbers because once intel gets in this space it is going to dominate, and will have attractive offerings since everyone else is basically using the same IP from arm with different wrappers...

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