As the launch of next-generation Atom mobile platform looms, Intel is making more and more semi-public and public noise about the new, first true SoC (System-on-a-Chip) from their labs.
According to our conversations with various sources inside Intel, the company is taking the task of "becoming mobile" very seriously. First and foremost, Intel went through an internal reorganization and merged four distinctive business units into one: Mobile Communications, Mobile Wireless, Netbook & Tablet PC and Ultra-Mobility.
Known as "Mobile and Communications", this new business unit is headed by Mike Bell and Hermann Eul. The first product coming out of this newly formed division is a 32nm chip called Medfield. Medfield is the codename for Intel's first true SoC and first true highly-integrated-solution, since old Intel mentality liked to speak about "vertically integrated platforms" without explicitly mentioning just how much chips you need in order to have a functional platform (we all remember two-chip "platforms" that require 4-5 chips to work).
Be that as it may, Intel's "Medfield" chip is the first true SoC which will compete against Apple's A-Series, NVIDIA Tegra, Qualcomm Snapdragon, Samsung Exynos, Texas Instruments OMAP and the likes. Out of all the chips mentioned above, only Samsung's Exynos is currently manufactured in 32nm process, just like Medfield.
Few weeks ahead of the official launch, we now have first performance numbers of "Medfield Tablet Platform". The actual development has an x86 processing core operating at 1.6GHz, 1GB LP-DDR2, WLAN/Bluetooth/FM Radio chip of unnamed manufacturer, 10.1", 1280×800 resolution screen and eMMC/micro-SD card for removable storage.
The benchmarks were performed on Honeycomb (Android 3.x) while the shipping products will utilize the Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.x) operating system.
So, what the performance is?
Intel Medfield 1.6GHz currently scores around 10,500 in Caffeinemark 3. For comparison, NVIDIA Tegra 2 scores around 7500, while Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8260 scores 8000. Samsung Exynos is the current king of the crop, scoring 8500. True – we're waiting for the first Tegra 3 results to come through.
There are more tests being mentioned to us, but needless to say – Intel should have a competitive part… at least as far as performance goes. The second and more important part is how much power does it actually consumes.
As it stands right now, the prototype version is consuming 2.6W in idle with the target being 2W, while the worst case scenarios are video playback: watching the video at 720p in Adobe Flash format will consume 3.6W, while the target for shipping parts should be 1W less (2.6W).
Can Intel achieve these performance targets in shipping parts with all the limitations that mass-manufactured parts have – only time will tell.