Intel made a splash at CES when its partner Lenovo showed off the Racer-A/K800, the first Android-powered smartphone to use Intel’s chip design. Though the chip giant is late and in many ways behind in the smartphone game at the moment, they don’t intend to be an also-ran. Mike Bell, formerly of Palm and currently Intel’s vice president of Ultra Mobility, claimed in an interview with EE Times that the Medfield system-on-a-chip would make huge advancements in both power and efficiency on Android.
“We have adopted Android as our platform of choice… we’re just building the best hardware in the world to make Android shine.” Bell claims that Medfield is demonstrably faster than competing chips while remaining at least as power efficient, a stance that will certainly raise enthusiast eyebrows if true. Previously Intel had aimed to make chips as fast as possible without regard for power savings, but Bell said that the 32 nanometer standard allows OEMs to have the best of both worlds.
Speed is important, but so is idleness, at least in the Android world. Bell said that the standby power draw for Medfield is “well within shouting distance of best-in class”, and that in web benchmarks Intel’s hardware “smokes the competition”. Based on our hands-on experience with Lenovo’s pre-production hardware, we’d say that those claims are certainly valid. The company is publishing a set of tools that will allow apps to be coded specifically for Intel hardware, but it says that existing applications should run fine when downloaded onto an Intel-inside smartphone.
Bell also played up Intel’s growing relationship with Google. “Intel architecture is now a first-class citizen, as far as Google is concerned,” said Bell, a statement that seems somewhat at odds with Google TV’s quick shift to ARM-based hardware. Intel claims that there will be no time lag between Google’s release of a standard ARM-based version of future Android software and an Intel-optimized one.
Intel plans to start its march into the Android world in China, with partners Lenovo and Motorola. The company hopes to expand to mare markets and OEMs late this year and in 2013.