There were more then a few nay sayers claiming that Intel would never release a smartphone and that Medfield would never see the light of day. Last week, MIT’s Technology Review got to go hands on with a brand new prototype smartphone running Intel’s latest mobile processor, Medfield. The Android handset running Gingerbread has similar dimensions to the 4 but was noticeably lighter, this is likely because as a prototype its case is plastic rather than metal and glass.
This ‘reference design’ is meant 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 Stephen Smith, vice president of Intel’s architecture group He also commented that Intel has built circuits into the Medfield chip specifically to speed up Android apps and Web browsing.
According to Technology Review:
The phone was powerful and pleasing to use, on a par with the latest iPhone and Android handsets. It could play Blu-Ray-quality video and stream it to a TV if desired; Web browsing was smooth and fast…One feature that stood out was the camera’s “burst mode,” which captures 10 full-size eight-megapixel images at a rate of 15 per second.
The Medfield chip is able to offer a “burst mode” through a combination of image-processing circuits built into the chip and dedicated software tweaks on top. Intel’s acquisition of the Dutch image-processing company Silicon Hive is behind the inclusion of this feature which also means we can expect to see augmented reality.
A reference design Medfield tablet was also produced and it was slightly larger than anbut was the same thickness and weight. There were no comments on its performance other than Ice Cream Sandwich performed better than Gingerbread.
There has been a gap for Intel in the mobile computing space with tablets rising and Netbook sales on the decline. Intel has been slow to enter the mobile computing market because of technical and business-strategy issues. It took time for engineers to find a way to compress their usual three-chip design into a single system-on–a-chip, says Smith. The release of these reference designs is a big step for Intel, “This is our first offering that’s truly a single chip,” claims Smith.
This is finally allow Intel to compete with ARM based all-in-one design, known as a system on-a-chip that currently dominate the market. We’re told to expect Medfield based products to be announced in the first half of 2012, so keep an eye out at CES for new Smartphones and Tablets from Intel.