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Intel sort of announces the Atom Z2460

We've already reported on Intel and Motorola's partnership on smartphones and tablets, but what wasn't included there was anything about the actual hardware. Intel has finally announced its Medfield Atom processor, now known as the Z2460 and this is what will be making its way into the first Intel powered smartphones.

We've already reported on Intel and Motorola's partnership on smartphones and tablets, but what wasn't included there was anything about the actual hardware. Intel has finally announced its Medfield Atom processor, now known as the Z2460 and this is what will be making its way into the first Intel powered smartphones.

Although Intel signed a partnership with Motorola, it looks like the first device out the door will be Lenovo's K800 smartphone which will according to Intel start selling in China as soon as the second quarter of this year. We've got a nice photo of the phone below with Lenovo's representative at CES holding it up-side-down as it happens. Intel has been very scarce with details of the Atom Z2460 and the press release only goes as far as to say that it features Hyper-Threading and that it'll paired up with the Intel XMM 6260 HSPA+ modem in the Lenovo K800.

Intel does of course have its own reference design handset as so often before and this time around it has a 4.03-inch display and a rear 8Megapixel camera that can snap 15 pictures in less than a second. It's running Android, but this is hardly surprising after Intel's disaster with MeeGo. As it happens, Anandtech has a lot of extra information that will help fill in the blanks in Intel's press release and we'll summarize some of them here, but we'd suggest you head over there for the full story.

Let's start with a closer look at the Atom Z2460 which according to Anand is a power optimized Atom SoC. It should be noted that the Z2460 doesn't have a PCH and as such this is Intel's first, fully integrated Atom SoC. As with so many other Atom processors we're looking at graphics from Imagination Technologies, in this case the PowerVR SGX 540, the same graphics core found in Texas Instruments OMAP4 ARM processors, albeit at a higher clock speed of 400MHz. Intel has also integrated Imagination Technologies VDX385 video decoder and VDE285 video encoder, both capable of 1080p30 video.

Finally there are some components inside the Atom Z2460 from Silicon Hive to handle cameras and image processing and just as the video encoder and decoder, this is to offload these task from the x86 core to help reduce power consumption. The Atom Z2460 supports LPDDR2 memory and is only available in a PoP (Package on Package) configuration. What this means is that there are pins on top of the SoC for the DRAM to be soldered on to help reduce PCB space taken up by the two otherwise rather large chips.

In terms of performance Anand got the chance to run a couple of benchmarks and the Atom Z2460 outperformed all current ARM implementations and that was running Android 3.x with Intel expecting even better performance from Android 4.x. The benchmarks aren't what we'd call the most telling out there, as one was the SunSpider Javascript benchmark which can produce quite varying results depending on the web browser – try it on Opera mobile and you'll see what we mean – as well as BrowserMark. Even so, it looks like we can expect a good web experience from the Z2460 which is important considering its target market.

Anand also got the opportunity to run GLBenchmark 2.1 on the Intel device at 1024×600 and although there are no comparative numbers posted, Intel managed to stay well over 30fps in the two tests that were run with one hitting close to 50fps. Do remember that this is at reasonably high resolution. Intel does have the advantage of having a higher clocked GPU core than most ARM based processors using the PowerVR SGX540, but even so it's far from the fastest GPU core available in this market space.

One of the most important aspects here though is power draw and according to Intel's own tests their reference platform ends up drawing roughly the same kind of power as a Samsung Galaxy S II, give and take a little bit depending on the test in question. Not bad going considering that this is Intel's first real attempt at a SoC designed specifically for smartphones. Time will tell how well actual retail devices are in terms of power usage, but it's fairly obvious that Intel has done some serious work on getting the power draw down to as low levels as possible.

Intel still has an uphill battle to fight, even if the company has already found a couple of partners willing to work on developing devices based on Intel's new Atom SoC as well as future models. Apparently we can expect revised versions as soon as by the end of this year with improved graphics among the upgrades. We'd steer clear of first generation hardware though, simply based on the fact that first generation hardware tends to have a fair few issues that are generally solved by the second generation.

Source: Intel, Anandtech

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