Intel Demos Medfield Powered Android Phone and Tablet

Intel Demos Medfield Powered Android Phone and Tablet


Netbooknews and several other tech blogs report that 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 iPhone 4 but was noticeably lighter, this is likely because for a prototype, its case might be made out of plastic, and not glass plus plastic reinforced with metal frames and elements usually found in real consumer phones.

Intel Medfield chips were shown in Nokia devices that were supposed to run MeeGo back in February. At that time, some specs were leaked for the chip.

Medfield x86 architecture with 2 CPU’s being recognized by the logging software, achieved either through hyper-threading or multiple CPU cores. Which of the two is not explicitly verified. A maximum clock speed of 1.6 GHz a minimum clock of 200Mhz with a number of intermediate clock steps in between allowing for variable performance.

Using a synthetic Linux Benchmark (probably Quadrant) a score  of 6389.62 BogoMIPS was achieved. Comparatively speaking, Tegra 2 on the Optimus 2X manages to get a score of just 2391 BogoMIPS using a similar synthetic test. The caveat here is that the test on the Optimus is not optimised for multiple cores. How much is optimized for dual-core Medfield is anybody’s guess though. However, even if you assumed a generous improvement of 2 times the single core performance, there is still significant headroom as far as the Intel chip and raw CPU performance is concerned.

As for RAM, it’s 1 GB reported for Nokia device. While ROM and RAM size will likely differ in retail devices, 1 GB of RAM is on hand. There also appears to be up to 500 MB of graphics memory on tap using Intel’s dynamic memory allocation but the amount integrated on the graphics core is uncertain.

However, it’s not clear whether the Medfield chip used in Android phone, or tablet demoed last week is the same as in that doomed Nokia device of last February. If it is, which is quite probable, the extra dedicated graphic RAM of 500 MB is quite essential for graphics intensive tasks such as 1080p video decoding and 1080p encoding (stress is mine, as I wanted to outline a much more computing intensive task than just 1080p HD video decoding). GPU itself is described as PowerVR SGX core, though the specifics of said core are still unknown. GPU and associated Image Processor information is not available but 1080p encode and decode are expected. The GPU core is known to be clocked at 200 MHz, which is pretty slack for today’s SGX cores that reach 350 MHz and faster clock rates.

Medfield is the first Intel chip that follows the proven and obvious ARM design guidelines: it’s a System-on-Chip (SoC) rather than CPU and GPU and I/O and whatnot chips and circuits scattered over motherboard, like it was with previous Intel Atom-based designs.

Stephen Smith, Vice President of Intel’s Architecture Group tells us that this Gingerbread Medfield 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. Smith also says Intel has built circuits into the Medfield chip specifically to speed up Android apps and Web browsing. As of today, it’s a mystery what exactly were these magic circuits were before they were backed into that matte black Medfield chip.

Bigger than iPad Medfield-based tablet was also mentioned, but there’s no reaction to it in the press: this tablet prototype might need something of Ice Cream Sandwich to run really good. A special Intel’s fork of ICS obviously  is not ready for x86 architecture just yet.  I wonder how good Windows Phone 7 would run on that Medfield phone? Or Windows 8, on that Medfield tablet?