Intel on Tuesday announced its long-awaited Atom chip for smartphones and tablets, a crowded market populated by a host of formidable rivals--unlike the PC market where it dominates.
Previously known by the code name "Moorestown," the Atom Z6 processor series will "open the door" for Intel chips in the smartphone market, said Pankaj Kedia, director in the Ultra Mobility Group. To date, Intel's Atom has been used primarily in Netbooks, where it has been adopted widely by all major PC makers and been an unqualified hit.
"The specific focus of Moorestown is entering the smartphone segment but it also does very well, it scales very well in the tablet segment," Kedia said. The entire package of chips is composed of the Atom Z6 series system-on-a-chip and two accompanying pieces of silicon. The system-on-a-chip is the "brains of the smartphone" and does all of the heavy lifting such as the core data processing, the handling of video and audio streams, and graphics, Kedia said.
"This time the Atom architecture was defined so it could (fit) into the high end of the smartphone segment," said Belliappa Kuttanna, chief Atom Architect.
Compared with Intel's relatively power-hungry PC processors, Moorestown's most distinctive characteristic is its power frugality. Standby time using a "BlackBerry-style" battery is 10 days. Active battery time, when Web browsing or watching video, for example, is about five hours, said Kedia, who claimed battery life is competitive with high-end "premium" smartphones. (Though Kedia didn't mention any by name, premium smartphones include Apple's iPhone and Motorola's Droid.)
But Intel's hallmark feature is performance. "When you look at Web page type of performance. For example, Java-script-rich Web sites. Specifically, how fast the Web pages load.… Read more