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Intel Eyes Smartphone Chip Market

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the make-room-for-atom dept.

Intel 84

MojoKid writes "Intel has been rather successful at carving out a large percentage of the netbook market with their low power Atom processor. Moving forward, Intel's executives believe there's a good potential to increase Atom's traction in adjacent markets by targeting its low-cost, energy-efficient chips at various multifunctional consumer gadgets including smartphones and other portable devices that access the Internet. Code-named Moorestown, a new version of the chip will offer a 50x power reduction at idle and reportedly will deliver enough horsepower to handle 720p video recording and 1080p quality playback. It is with this upcoming chip that Intel will begin targeting the smartphone market In 2011. Intel also plans to introduce an even smaller, less power-hungry version of the chip known as Medfield, which will be built on a 32nm process with a full solution comprising a PCB area of about half the size of a credit card."

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Really.... (2, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329085)

Really Intel could excel in the smartphone chip market where they can't in the netbook market because of MS and their speed/power restrictions on netbooks. The problem I see with the smartphone market is that x86 is terribly hard to make power-efficient enough and still be fast. Could Intel do it, sure, but unlike desktop CPUs they can't just increase the clock speed and get faster CPUs, they have to work at it.

It's the other way around (5, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329373)

The Microsoft definition is driven by Intel [gizmodo.com] . It's dumb of both of them, as it defines "premium netbook" as one that doesn't have either of their products in it but which has a bigger screen, more memory, more storage or a faster processor. It's a "loser mentality [cnet.com] " that tries to protect the notebook market that's already in "race to the bottom" mode.

Since neither of them can prevent other manufacturers from innovating outside of this specification, that just make it easier for an up-an-coming manufacturer to create a new market without them, and enjoy the benefit of not having to compete with them in that market.

So of course after that happens the restrictions will go away and it will be a free-for-all again.

It ain't over till it's over (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 5 years ago | (#28330085)

It's a "loser mentality" that tries to protect the notebook market that's already in "race to the bottom" mode.

I seem to recall the geek saying that Linux had a lock on the netboook market.

Until XP and the Atom started kicking butt.

How about - this time - we wait and see how well the next generation "mini laptop" sells.

In a deep recession the market for the $99 gadget - the Blue Light special on Aisle 3 - often just dies.

Re:It ain't over till it's over (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#28332503)

I'm guessing you didn't click the link to see who was calling that a loser mentality.

Re:It's the other way around (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#28333675)

> but which has a bigger screen, more memory, more storage or a faster processor

I thought that was typically called a laptop ;).

The netbook spec just allows Microsoft to sell a cheaper Windows O/S for netbooks without affecting their pricing for the laptop market. I don't see how that netbook spec would keep Intel out of a premium netbook market. Linux runs fine on netbook/laptops with Intel CPUs. OSX runs fine too.

Even your link itself and this article show that Intel is going into more markets, whether Microsoft joins them or not.

Unless there's some clause which allows Via or AMD to have cheaper windows O/S than Intel for the same class netbook/laptop, I don't see how it hurts Intel at all.

Maybe they might get in trouble with some regulators or get sued, but how is this a dumb move by Intel?

Re:It's the other way around (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#28335177)

If they disappear the snapdragon [gottabemobile.com] , there'll be hell to pay. Both of them had best be checking the logs to see who had contact during CeBit.

What do you know, CS student? (1)

Sybert42 (1309493) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329437)

Stick to Linux.

Re:Really.... (1)

Julie188 (991243) | more than 5 years ago | (#28351137)

So, are you saying that all the chips that Intel makes, like IXP4XX family (for network processors), are all based on the X86? Seems as if they already work at it. And if they are smart (and they are smart), they would see that in the next few years the PC becomes the netbook and the netbook merges with the smartphone. Some company or another is going to make a lot of money from those new devices.

Can't wait to (4, Interesting)

msgmonkey (599753) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329125)

watch those 1080p movies on my smart phone screen.

But on a more serious note, Intel will always be able to leverage their advanced fabrication processes to reduce power consumption. Most ARM chips I've seen use older (in terms of desktop CPU) process technology but the good architecture still gives you excellent power consumption.

Re:Can't wait to (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28329273)

Pardon my ignorance, but would not 1080p playback look very much like a lower resolution playback unless your phone screen had 1080 pixels running across it?

Re:Can't wait to (2, Informative)

e4g4 (533831) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329321)

I do believe that was the GP's point - but really - the ability to playback 1080p is more of a performance metric than an actual handy thing to have in a phone (unless, of course, you're plugging it into a TV)

Re:Can't wait to (2, Insightful)

msgmonkey (599753) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329445)

Yes that was my point, but another point is that 1080p playback does n't really mean anything as a CPU metric either because I seriously doubt it would be the CPU that would be doing the decoding. Most likely like the SoC arm based processors used on todays smartphones there would be dedicated hardware to assist with the video encoding/decoding.

Re:Can't wait to (1)

ChrisLambrou (742881) | more than 5 years ago | (#28330123)

It's probably worth noting that a chip cheap enough to be economically attractive for use in mobile phones, that can also decode 1080p video, may also be targeting significant other markets. HD TVs and set-top boxes, for example - there's a fair number of those sold each year.

Re:Can't wait to (1)

Lennie (16154) | more than 5 years ago | (#28332959)

A beagleboard already does 720p, it uses dedicated hardware for it, if I'm not mistaken.

Re:Can't wait to (4, Informative)

supersat (639745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329369)

Intel already had an ARM processor for smartphones -- the XScale PXA family. They decided to sell it off to Marvell a few years ago as part of their cost-cutting strategy. We'll see if that was a wise thing to do.

Re:Can't wait to (2, Informative)

msgmonkey (599753) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329667)

Well as far as I remember they got XScale when thet aquired DEC so it probably was n't a division that was taken very seriously. Whilst they did make some improvements other manufacturers started producing ARM based chips that were as good as if not better so they got rid of it. I suspect the problem for Intel was that they did n't own the ARM architecture so for them it was better to sell off what they had since they would always be competing with other ARM licensees.

Re:Can't wait to (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28330017)

Intel never acquired DEC, Compaq did. Intel did buy some pieces of DEC though. They definitely bought the StrongARM CPU which they rebranded XScale. IIRC, they also bought some of DEC's networking stuff like the Tulip ethernet controller (at the time, probably the best 10/100Mbps design) Publicly at least it doesn't seem like much of that still exists in the intel product lineup but maybe pieces of DEC's designs still live on in some products. Or maybe buying pieces was just part of a patent-licensing play, who knows?

I really miss DEC. Definitely the best computer hardware company of all time.

Re:Can't wait to (2, Informative)

Paul Jakma (2677) | more than 5 years ago | (#28330647)

IIRC, Intel got the rights to all of Digital Semiconductor's design portfolio, bar AXP, as part of the DEC v Intel lawsuit settlement [berkeley.edu] in about 1997. This included things like the 21x4x tulip NICs, the 21x5x PCI-PCI bridges, the SA-110 StrongARM.

Re:Can't wait to (1)

NP-Incomplete (1566707) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329867)

They sold it because it competed with their aspiration to have x86 enter the smartphone market. I don't think profitability had anything to do with it.

Re:Can't wait to (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28330339)

Not exactly, I've seen their roadmap from before they decided that UMPCs were the future, and they had the XScale family moving up into the low end tablet/laptop space. At some point they changed their marketing from targeting smart phones to UMPCs, then sold off the XScale business. This was before the iPhone came out and gave the smartphone market the kick in the ass it needed.

Re:Can't wait to (1)

Karganeth (1017580) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329371)

[Can't wait to] watch those 1080p movies on my smart phone screen.

There are already phones which can play 780p (and record too). Why the sarcasm? Would you rather watch a lower quality movie?

Re:Can't wait to (3, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329535)

[Can't wait to] watch those 1080p movies on my smart phone screen.

There are already phones which can play 780p (and record too). Why the sarcasm? Would you rather watch a lower quality movie?

I don't have a brick sized smartphone, I have a tiny flip-phone. The screen is the size of a postage stamp, and the speakerphone sounds like a broken cb radio, which is plenty good enough for phone use. I will never be able to tell the difference between 320x240 and mono sound vs 1080p and 5.1 surround. Even on a slightly larger brick sized smartphone, I don't think it would be a noticeable difference, other than the dramatic decrease in battery life and maybe waves of heat wafting off the CPU.

At this time, can the average smartphone battery survive a low res feature length movie, and how much does it cost at five cents per kilobyte? Then extrapolate to ten times the data transfered (equals ten times the profit) plus ten times the processing equals roughly a tenth the battery life?

The other problem is the past decade has been spent trying to convince mindless consumers that nirvana is buying the largest big screen TV with the most surround speakers, then even the stupidest most formulaic movie is great. They have had some success with this sales pitch. Now all the marketers have to do is convince them they were just kidding, and nirvana is using the worlds highest resolution tiny phone, then even the stupidest most formulaic movie is great. Good luck! They'll need it!

Re:Can't wait to (1)

Lennie (16154) | more than 5 years ago | (#28332977)

What about 720p while connected to a TV ?:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXr-D1wROfQ [youtube.com]

Re:Can't wait to (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 5 years ago | (#28334851)

Considering that most people WON'T be doing that and that the Cortex-A8 based appear to already able to DO 1080p...

Re:Can't wait to (4, Informative)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329439)

good architecture

Don't you mean ludicrously good architecture?

I'm thinking Cortex A8's, which have been out for over a year. Stuff like the OMAP 3530(present in the Beagleboard [beagleboard.org] , upcoming Pandora Handheld [openpandora.org] , and Palm Pre [slashdot.org] ) consumes remarkably small amounts of power.

The Pandora developers said their device consumes around or just over 1 watt. Most of that is from the LCD. They did experiments completely shutting off certain hardware, to measure power consumption, and concluded...

CPU - about 20-40mw
DSP - about 30-60mw
SGX GPU - about 30-60mw

(Hard to get exact measurements due to the nature of how components interact. Anything loading the CPU probably loads up the memory as well. Anything hitting the GPU will hit the CPU, and DSP load varies greatly depending on the codec and video being decoded.)

The entire SoC uses a ludicrously small amount of power; something like 0.2-0.4w. Then add another 0.6w for the LCD, and a bunch more for wireless.

Now, compare that to the current Atoms, with 6+ watts just for the CPU/chipset, another 2+ for the HDD/SSD, at least 6-15w for the LCD, etc...

If any company can drive down their power consumption, Intel can, but that doesn't mean it'll be easy to catch ARM!

I just can't wait for Cortex A9's. Quad-core ARM in the exact same power envelope!

Re:Can't wait to (1)

msgmonkey (599753) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329501)

Yes I agree Intel won't beable to to compete with the ARM because as you rightly point out the ARM is just too well designed an architecture.

If you read between the lines though I expect that the GPU and video decoding/encoding will be competitive if not better due fabrication process and if you notice it says "50X less power consumption at idle" so what I suspect is that as long as you're not doing anything that pushes the CPU you will get OK power consumption overall, but I guess we will have to wait and see if Intel can pull it off.

Re:Can't wait to (1)

fast turtle (1118037) | more than 5 years ago | (#28330753)

Yea Intel will be able to get a 50X power savings at idle but the real problem is the 2watts used when talking. That'll kill any phone battery in less then 10 minutes unless it's one of the old Analog Bricks that weigh 2 kilo's.

Re:Can't wait to (1)

msgmonkey (599753) | more than 5 years ago | (#28332983)

No phone uses the CPU when you talk, it is all handled by the baseband DSP.

Re:Can't wait to (3, Insightful)

ciroknight (601098) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329519)

good architecture

Don't you mean ludicrously good architecture?

I'm thinking Cortex A8's, which have been out for over a year. Stuff like the OMAP 3530(present in the Beagleboard [beagleboard.org] , upcoming Pandora Handheld [openpandora.org] , and Palm Pre [slashdot.org] ) consumes remarkably small amounts of power.

The Pandora developers said their device consumes around or just over 1 watt. Most of that is from the LCD. They did experiments completely shutting off certain hardware, to measure power consumption, and concluded...

CPU - about 20-40mw DSP - about 30-60mw SGX GPU - about 30-60mw

(Hard to get exact measurements due to the nature of how components interact. Anything loading the CPU probably loads up the memory as well. Anything hitting the GPU will hit the CPU, and DSP load varies greatly depending on the codec and video being decoded.)

The entire SoC uses a ludicrously small amount of power; something like 0.2-0.4w. Then add another 0.6w for the LCD, and a bunch more for wireless.

Now, compare that to the current Atoms, with 6+ watts just for the CPU/chipset, another 2+ for the HDD/SSD, at least 6-15w for the LCD, etc...

If any company can drive down their power consumption, Intel can, but that doesn't mean it'll be easy to catch ARM!

I just can't wait for Cortex A9's. Quad-core ARM in the exact same power envelope!

To be fair, the Atom runs at 6 Watts max, where average TDP can down to as little as 0.4W. The problem with Atom, as you say, is all of the other hardware to make it work. Its current chipset is incredibly power hungry, but they're working on that (integrating more and doing even deeper clock gating). Future Atoms will likely use even less power, with Intel already shipping chips with a max 2.4W threshold.

And yes, you are being unfair comparing a device which has a hard drive with hundreds of gigabytes of space and a WXSVGA screen to a handheld device with a couple of gigs of flash memory and a HVGA screen. Nobody's stopping you from making an Atom device with those components (though it will take more power right now, it'll be vastly faster than the Cortex A8, and you won't have to recompile or use highly specialized toolkits, which is a huge Intel advantage).

Re:Can't wait to (4, Interesting)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329863)

To be fair, the Atom runs at 6 Watts max, where average TDP can down to as little as 0.4W. The problem with Atom, as you say, is all of the other hardware to make it work. Its current chipset is incredibly power hungry, but they're working on that (integrating more and doing even deeper clock gating). Future Atoms will likely use even less power, with Intel already shipping chips with a max 2.4W threshold.

Right, so if you're actually doing something, you don't get to use your computer as long.

And yes, you are being unfair comparing a device which has a hard drive with hundreds of gigabytes of space and a WXSVGA screen to a handheld device with a couple of gigs of flash memory and a HVGA screen.

The Pandora has dual-SDHC slots, so you could have 64GB of space. (More if bigger SDHC cards were actually made)

Fine, an HDD is unfair, but SSD vs dual-SDHC is a valid comparison. The EEE PCs with SSDs had about 25MB/sec read/write speed. High end SDHC cards are slightly below that, and you can have two.

Now that better SSDs are available(like the Vertex), it changes things - but the Vertex is also a whole other price range.

Nobody's stopping you from making an Atom device with those components (though it will take more power right now, it'll be vastly faster than the Cortex A8, and you won't have to recompile or use highly specialized toolkits, which is a huge Intel advantage).

Nobody makes x86 programs that work on such tiny screens. I would cite the "highly specialized toolkits" as an advantage for ARM, in this case... you will need linux and those fancy toolkits. Maemo, Android, etc. all work very well on tiny screens.

And by the time Intel has an x86 Atom chip that will work in a fanless tiny device like a Pandora, ARM will have quad-core A9's available, so your point regarding performance is moot...

After all, there is no Atom that will fit in a device that small... yet. I have news for you though - my Phenom II in a cellphone (lol) beats your Atom in a cellphone. ;)

Re:Can't wait to (1)

Taxman415a (863020) | more than 5 years ago | (#28330095)

Nobody's stopping you from making an Atom device with those components (though it will take more power right now, it'll be vastly faster than the Cortex A8, and you won't have to recompile or use highly specialized toolkits, which is a huge Intel advantage).

Actually, go check the benchmarks and power draws on the chips and chipsets again. The Atom is most certainly not vastly faster than the Cortex A8 (particularly for equivalent clock and number of cores), and while Intel may be able to work the power draw down from the tens of watts that the chip + chipset + graphics require right now, that's a much harder task than what ARM has to do putting together the quad core Cortex A9 package that already has extremely low power graphics, etc. Though you do have it that the Atom doesn't require a recompile/port which is an Intel advantage.

Re:Can't wait to (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 5 years ago | (#28335001)

If you're already sitting on Linux, it's less of a port and more of a recompile if it's clean code. Seriously.

Re:Can't wait to (1)

jones_supa (887896) | more than 5 years ago | (#28334321)

The problem with Atom, as you say, is all of the other hardware to make it work. Its current chipset is incredibly power hungry, but they're working on that (integrating more and doing even deeper clock gating).

The ratio can already be seen getting better. Older designs' 945GC used max 22W while the newer 945GSE tops at 6W.

Re:Can't wait to (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 5 years ago | (#28334949)

Even then, you're still consuming 2-3 times the juice of the current comparable ARM parts already shipping.

"Vastly Faster" is a relative concept, mind. Clock-for-clock, they're showing to be rather close in performance
right at the moment. Most of the Cortex-A8 parts are clocked down to 500-600MHz to save further on juice.

Don't get me wrong, Atom's VERY nice (I've got one machine right now, getting more...) but as a smartphone
platform, it's not as compelling as ARM is. The only real reason you'd really EVER need X86 is if you're trying
to wedge Windows XP or Windows7 onto the device (Seriously...) as most of the mobile/embedded space use
ARM or MIPS in their designs. To be sure, there's configurations in the embedded industry that call for that-
but the handheld/wearables tend to not hold up as well or be as prevalent as the ARM or MIPS variants.

There's a reason for this...

Re:Can't wait to (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 5 years ago | (#28330333)

Damn right. Every few months this story about Intel driving their products down into the smartphone arena comes along.

Last year it was laughable, with a CPU + Chipset that needed more PCB space than your average brickphone's footprint, never mind other components. They've reduced that for 2011 to something that's still 10x the footprint of an ARM SoC. I can't see Intel getting anything competitive until 2013, but it's not as if ARM is standing still.

Cortex A9 brings out-of-order capability and multi-core (up to four way) in 2010, and will probably rule until 2012. It'll start on 45nm and drop to 28nm (via GlobalFoundries) very quickly. NVIDIA are using it in their next generation Tegra for 2010, never mind the other several dozen generic Smartphone/STB ARM SoC designers/manufacturers.

As Intel shrinks it's cores down by 'pentium-ising' them, the x86 decoder overhead grows in size relative to the rest of the core. This hurts them with multicore. I think it is hurting them with Larrabee in terms of die size.

It's also following the 'good enough' development path, and the path of adding specific hardware to accelerate tasks (in phone SoCs, DSPs, Security, and soon OpenCL) whereas Intel has always tried to get the CPUs to do that work.

Re:Can't wait to (1)

PhireN (916388) | more than 5 years ago | (#28330609)

The LCD on my EEEPC 1000he uses way less than 6-15w.
With linux, a stripped down window manager (awsome), screen at ~30% brightness and bluetooth, wifi, sd slot and webcam powered down, it idles at 8.1-8.3w. (I think the hdd is spun down at this point)
Turning the backlight off only gets me down to 7.9w, and If I put the screen at full brightness the entire power load only increases to ~9.2w.
Clearly the Screen isn't using the bulk of the power.

Re:Can't wait to (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 5 years ago | (#28332353)

Oh? Interesting.

All I had available for reference was a smaller/older EEE PC.

I assumed the bigger LCDs would use more juice, but it looks like the newer ones may use less.

I take it you measured with a device like the Kill-A-Watt?

Re:Can't wait to (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28330777)

(Hard to get exact measurements due to the nature of how components interact. Anything loading the CPU probably loads up the memory as well. Anything hitting the GPU will hit the CPU, and DSP load varies greatly depending on the codec and video being decoded.)

Um, no.

Re:Can't wait to (1)

mgblst (80109) | more than 5 years ago | (#28331289)

Apple have done some research into this area, and concluded that the best power saving technique is to ramp the CPU up for complex tasks, then hit idle as soon as you can. Rather than dragging out the process. This sounds like what Intel is going for, with there 50 x reduction in idle draw.

Re:Can't wait to (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 5 years ago | (#28332363)

Apple have done some research into this area, and concluded that the best power saving technique is to ramp the CPU up for complex tasks, then hit idle as soon as you can. Rather than dragging out the process. This sounds like what Intel is going for, with there 50 x reduction in idle draw.

Doesn't really matter. A Cortex A8 isn't that much slower than an Atom. Certainly not enough that the idle savings will offset the load power usage.

More evidence Intel can't get low enough power (1)

Taxman415a (863020) | more than 5 years ago | (#28349245)

Instead of replying to myself, I thought I'd add it here. Here's a Linuxdevices article [linuxdevices.com] on Intel's upcoming lower power atoms. This is reducing the ridiculous power draw of the chipsets by combining the package into two chips. Quoting

"Even more important, the Pine Trail platform will have a seven-Watt TDP and require an average of just two Watts"

That's after the improvements on an upcoming chip release. The article goes on the say the setup will cost more for Intel to produce. Good luck to them though, I'm still rooting for the race to the greatest performance out of milliwatts.

Re:More evidence Intel can't get low enough power (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 5 years ago | (#28354139)

I think I'll just bide my time and wait for a 2 watt ARM quad-core. ;)

Re:Can't wait to (1)

Macman408 (1308925) | more than 5 years ago | (#28331129)

But on a more serious note, Intel will always be able to leverage their advanced fabrication processes to reduce power consumption. Most ARM chips I've seen use older (in terms of desktop CPU) process technology but the good architecture still gives you excellent power consumption.

I think that may actually be on purpose. Moving to a smaller process offers many benefits, such as increased speed and circuit density. However, it also tends to increase the leakage power of a chip. Leakage used to be almost nonexistent; these days, somewhere on the order of 50% of the power dissipation in a chip is just leakage.

For those not familiar with (semiconductor) leakage, here's a quick explanation: Transistors, as they are used in digital logic, have two states; 'on' and 'off'. When you make those transistors as small as they are currently (45 nanometers from the source to the drain, and maybe 4 to 7 atomic layers insulating the gate from the silicon substrate), transistors also have two states; 'on' and 'mostly on'. It turns out that when you only have a few atoms of silicon dioxide insulating the gate of the transistor, electrons can sometimes just hop straight through your insulation.

Now there are lots of things that help this - using something other than silicon dioxide to insulate the gate, or using a thicker gate oxide (which means slower transistors), or power gating to disable transistors that aren't in use. However, this is more of a problem in smaller process technology nodes. As a process matures, fabs develop ways to combat this, and low-power chips come out. But the leading-edge chips that pay for this new technology don't need to have the same ultra-low leakage that you need in an always-on device like a phone, so it takes a few years before the same technology moves into that market. It doesn't make a difference if you're Intel, or if you're fabless and buy wafers from TSMC.

Re:Can't wait to (1)

GordonCopestake (941689) | more than 5 years ago | (#28332487)

Perhaps. But what if your phone had a USB socket (mine already does) and a HDMI socket? Carry your "laptop" around with you everywhere and use it as it should be - a communication device... BUT when you want a bigger screen, find the nearest 1080p panel and bam, big screen. Plug in a keyboard and mouse when you want to use it for office / school work.

In my mind a device the size of a cell phone but as powerful as todays netbooks is something of a holy grail. Make a decent universal cradle so everyone has one and you can "hotdesk" as much as you want. Your whole workstation fits in your pocket and of course you can still use it without the boltons.

Re:Can't wait to (1)

Taxman415a (863020) | more than 5 years ago | (#28335689)

Exactly. This wasn't really possible before since the performance of the low power chips just wasn't high enough to do a broad enough range of tasks. But it really is within reach now. All of the necessary components are small enough, it would really just take some packaging and somebody decent behind it. Heck the current smartphones basically are this, just minus the HDMI and keyboard/mouse sockets. Actually the touchscreen on the smartphone could be the trackpad, so you'd just need a decent keyboard. Then if micro projectors ever make it that would really be something sweet.

processor for the old and poor (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28329147)

recent studies [appleinsider.com] demonstrate that only iphone users are young, hip, cool, earn more than 70k a year and in general are more educated and productive, who cares about a processor for smartphones that won't be ready for the iphone?

Re:processor for the old and poor (2, Funny)

causality (777677) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329271)

recent studies [appleinsider.com] demonstrate that only iphone users are young, hip, cool, earn more than 70k a year and in general are more educated and productive

In other words, you own one?

Re:processor for the old and poor (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329733)

The iPhone costs $2800. Of course the owners are going to tend to be more affluent. In fact, I'd suggest that if you earn less than $70k and you bought an iPhone for personal use, you're a dumb-ass.

wrong info (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28329161)

Intel talked at the press release about 50% reduction, not 50 times...

Re:wrong info (3, Informative)

caladine (1290184) | more than 5 years ago | (#28332103)

TFA has it here [hothardware.com] and here [hothardware.com] as a 50x reduction.

Re:wrong info (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28335313)

What, pray tell, is a "50 times" reduction? 50 times what? If it uses 50 watts, is that that a 2500 watt reduction?

The correct phrasing should be "a reduction to 1/50th" or "a 98% reduction".

Re:wrong info (1)

Taxman415a (863020) | more than 5 years ago | (#28335799)

Yeah, for the standby power, of just the chip. The chipset is still a hog, and that lower standby power doesn't matter if you can't keep it in standby long enough. The chip still draws way more power than the ARM chips when it's running. The ATOM at 2 watts plus multiple watt chipset has a long way to go to get down to the 300 milliwatts or less that the whole Cortex A8 SoC runs at. It'll be interesting, but I don't see how they'll do it. It kind of seems like a me too, now that ARM have been able to drive up performance so far into ATOM territory. A me too from Intel is kind of amusing actually.

Re:wrong info (1)

caladine (1290184) | more than 5 years ago | (#28336931)

Yeah, I was just pointing out what Intel was claiming. Even a 50x reduction in standby power from the 1.6W (see my second link) is still 32mW in standby. That's considerably higher that other offerings in the market place. Also, as you point out, this doesn't include the power used by the chipset. Intel has a ridiculous amount of catch-up to do, and they know it. Given Intel's track history with the market place, watch for underhanded dealings with the Smartbook/Netbook/MID/whatever manufacturers.

You BET (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28329215)

It would be terrible if a la carte cable TV meant that networks like BET would go away due to lack of funding.

Do you remember when, overnight, every black person in the USA started saying "are-uh" instead of the correct, monosyllabic pronounciation of the letter "r"? How about when that silly "raise the roof" gesture became trendy? What about yellow t-shirts? Speaking of who is or isn't in "the house" in a loud annoying voice? Who could forget shizzle and nizzle and other black contributions to our culture? I used to wonder how they managed to coordinate these trends because one day none of them would exhibit such behaviors and then the next day all of them do it as though they had been doing so all of their lives like some kind of long-established tradition. I mean, that sounds like it would be quite the logistics problem and would take a lot of work. Then it dawned on me! BET is how they do it. Ah well, as they say - monkey see, monkey do!

I wonder if any of the group-identity type of blacks would be surprised or shocked to learn that most of the commercial trends belonging to "their people", especially music but also designer clothes and the like, were actually the products of market research performed by some very white people wearing business suits and doing other things that are quite non-thuggish. Amazing how they hate "acting white" when it comes to getting an education and bettering yourself but they love following whitey when it comes to market trends.

Re:You BET (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28329421)

niggers need to get their black asses to work. they don't need television.

Lets be honest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28329235)

Lets be honest there wasn't a net book market until atom. The first version of the eee, but every other successful netbook is a post atom product. Intel didn't carve out anything, there wasn't a market before atom.

Re:Lets be honest (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329573)

Yes, there was a market, we just called it "Ultra mobile PCs". The problem was they were too annoyingly expensive. The specs of an ordinary $400 desktop, or a $700 laptop would be crammed into a $1200 UMPC. What Atom did was make the netbook even cheaper, which helped fuel netbooks, its not that everyone likes the fact that they are tiny, but when the cheapest full sized laptop that runs Windows is ~$400, and you can get a cheap netbook for ~$300 with XP installed, its no surprise that people want the cheap one especially with the current economic situation.

Re:Lets be honest (1)

BlackCreek (1004083) | more than 5 years ago | (#28333587)

Being tiny is also a major selling point.

The primary reasons for my GF to get one (MSI-Wind) was weight and battery life. The other choices were around 1000 euros, which was the price of a 13" laptop capable of handling Vista. But still the weight was higher, and battery life worse. Same for the ~1000euros Mac we saw.

Innovation in all market segments (2, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329253)

"It's a loser mentality to not develop one segment because you're worried about the other," he said. "I think we have several years ahead of us where we can innovate the heck out of any of these categories without getting defensive about the other one. You just need to unleash innovation in all of the segments and see what happens." - Sean Maloney [cnet.com]

It's interesting to see Intel expanding out of their traditional markets and unleashing innovation in every direction. Since they're also staying pretty open about interfaces, people are going to do some pretty amazing stuff with their new products.

Re:Innovation in all market segments (1)

Tycho (11893) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344739)

It is however fail when a design team attempts to design a product when the CEO and executives have made idiotic, fixed, immutable design requirements for a product that could never be competitive. The blame for this will not go to the CEO and execs, the design team will take the fall. This is the story with the Atom, Larabee, and the eight-core Nehalem server processors with memory expansion controller chips, nearly all of which seem, to me, to be really stupid ideas. Though who knows, maybe if Intel twists arms, dislocating enough shoulders, fits enough people/companies with concrete galoshes, offers enough illegal payouts, and extracts concessions from governments, it can get away with this or anything, at least in its mind.

Re:Innovation in all market segments (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#28344915)

This is the story with the Atom, Larabee, and the eight-core Nehalem server processors with memory expansion controller chips, nearly all of which seem, to me, to be really stupid ideas.

If you were a subscriber here you could see that I predicted all of these things years before they happened. I disagree that they're stupid ideas because to me they're my ideas. Itanium? Let's agree about that. That was a stupid idea that has ripened into a vile stench. Another $10B from Intel and HP isn't going to make this dog profitable.

Like any big company, Intel has various factions that don't necessarily agree with one another. It has to: that's the price of progress. As a whole I think they're motivated to provide some things I dearly want: progress in computer sciences and convenient devices that enable me to do cool stuff. It also has some folks I would rather not hear from, who use terms like "market cannibalization" to prevent progress. It has a few so focused on the Art of the Deal that somebody should more frequently jerk their leash. So it is in big companies.

But in all... great company, great products, great philosophies, and above all, "open". The future is open.

Time Trax (1)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329259)

"Intel also plans to introduce an even smaller, less power hungry version of the chip known as Medfield, which will be built on a 32nm process with a full solution comprising a PCB area of about half the size of a credit card."

Selma [tvacres.com] , is that you?

Intel vs. ARM (4, Interesting)

moon3 (1530265) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329325)

It would be interesting to see what will Intel pitch against ARM's current superior offering. ARM is cheap and already has Power-VR OpenGL accelerator and other stuff integrated, while being very power efficient. Bundled GPU and power efficiency is a deal breaker in the mobile arena. Intel doesn't have integrated GPU nor a track record of being very power efficient.

Re:Intel vs. ARM (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 5 years ago | (#28332395)

Pretty simple, really. It doesn't take much looking to find info (on wikipedia, even) that the next generation Atom (due out end of 2009) will tentatively be a dual core SoC with integrated next-gen (for Intel, anyway) GPU.

Re:Intel vs. ARM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28333361)

The GMA500 has a powerVR based GPU, and they're planning on integrating that mess into the CPU. So now both X86 and ARM will have the big-ball-of-mud driver that is buggy and has no 3D support. Yay. The company behnid the PowerVR just doesn't want to play with Linux.

I'm just hoping that when ARM has some of it's Mali GPU's built up, we'll get an actual functional driver to go with it.

Xscale? (4, Interesting)

areusche (1297613) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329357)

Seriously what happened to Intel's Xscale processor? After they sold it to Marvell it went into the abyss of forgotten tech. That ARM processor had the entire Palm and Pocket PC market by the balls a couple of years ago since every device worth its weight was using it! They left that market and now want to reenter it? Last I checked every smartphone still uses ARM.

Re:Xscale? (3, Informative)

NP-Incomplete (1566707) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329905)

Intel had to license ARM technology from ARM, Ltd. This was not a viable long-term business strategy.

Re:Xscale? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28332909)

Money is money,
oh well, I suppose x86 will allow windows 7 to effectively compete with android and OSX (hah) in the smart phone arena.

Re:Xscale? (2, Informative)

hattig (47930) | more than 5 years ago | (#28330361)

It's in the SheevaPlug device from Marvell - that's a 1.2GHz ARMv5 device (1.2GHz StrongARM / XScale effectively).

Stay Focused (1)

qpawn (1507885) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329407)

I hope the Intel employees don't get too distracted by random visits from USB co-inventor Ajay Bhatt.

Re:Stay Focused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28332357)

lol, bitter chinki.

The Two Ways Race (1)

edivad (1186799) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329449)

Intel trying to cut down power, and ARM trying to enter the multicore, superscalar field. So far, ARM is way ahead in the smartphone/mobile market. In there, battery life is king, and Intel lags behind.

Good luck with that (4, Interesting)

Taxman415a (863020) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329461)

The current atoms run about 2 watts, way too much for a smartphone even if they are able to cut that in half, and that's not even counting the power hog chipsets needed for the atom that require 5-12+ watts. By comparison the current cortex A8 packages with video etc that are able to do 1080p are able to make it under the 300 milliwatt line smartphone manufacturers are looking for.

And even better, if you're talking about Intel's chips two generations out, then consider the Cortex A9 quad core chips that are claiming to be ready to go and at reasonable power consumption in the same time frame if not sooner than Intel's offering. That article is actually claiming dual core Cortex A9 phones within a year that use about the same power as current chips with much better performance.

So as noted it looks like ARM is going to have a much easier time scaling up performance at the smartphone power draw level than Intel is going to have getting anywhere near it. And the Cortex A9 will probably spank the Atom. The race should benefit everyone though. Maybe we'll actually get some decent performing netbook, laptop, and desktop chips out of it that run on extremely low power.

Replying to own post with link (1)

Taxman415a (863020) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329499)

The current atoms run about 2 watts, way too much for a smartphone even if they are able to cut that in half, and that's not even counting the power hog chipsets needed for the atom that require 5-12+ watts. By comparison the current cortex A8 packages with video etc that are able to do 1080p are able to make it under the 300 milliwatt line smartphone manufacturers are looking for.

And even better, if you're talking about Intel's chips two generations out, then consider the Cortex A9 quad core chips that are claiming to be ready to go and at reasonable power consumption in the same time frame if not sooner than Intel's offering. That article is actually claiming dual core Cortex A9 phones within a year that use about the same power as current chips with much better performance.

So as noted it looks like ARM is going to have a much easier time scaling up performance at the smartphone power draw level than Intel is going to have getting anywhere near it. And the Cortex A9 will probably spank the Atom. The race should benefit everyone though. Maybe we'll actually get some decent performing netbook, laptop, and desktop chips out of it that run on extremely low power.

http://m.news.com/2166-12_3-10263278-64.html [news.com]
http://www.liliputing.com/tag/arm-cortex-a9 [liliputing.com]
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2341032,00.asp [pcmag.com]
Crap, missed the link the first time. A couple more for good measure.

Performance per mw (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28329985)

Finally a race to the lowest mw with high performance!

Hooray! (1)

Akir (878284) | more than 5 years ago | (#28330813)

This is a day of rejoicing! Now even our most simple embedded devices can have decades of backward-compatibility baggage and buggy code!

Three words come to mind (1)

tyrione (134248) | more than 5 years ago | (#28330933)

BFD.

Re:Three words come to mind (1)

vivek7006 (585218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28332321)

WTF?

Hmm... (1)

Zero_DgZ (1047348) | more than 5 years ago | (#28330957)

Push for (potentially) standardized low-power/decent-performance mobile platform that might actually result in a handheld general purpose computer that isn't an iPhone? Yes, please.

(Yes, I know all about the Palm Pre, Blackberries, and others. Quiet, you in the peanut gallery.)

If it doesn't work, a competitive push for other makers (ARM, etc.) to do better? Yes please to that, as well.

If this thing is supposed to be based on x86-ish architecture, though, I wonder how (or if) they've licked the bus and chipset power consumption problems still plaguing Atom based machines. The Atom is nifty and all and can run on 2 watts or whatever, but unless I've missed some big news somewhere you still need a 15-20 watt chipset/bus/BIOS/etc. hooked up to make it work.

That said, if this comes to fruition I'd very much like to see it used not only in phones, but in standalone PDA style devices as well. I know I'm in the vast minority these days but I like having the flexibility of a powerful PDA that's not tied to a service provider.

x86 please (1)

A12m0v (1315511) | more than 5 years ago | (#28332575)

I'd love to have an x86 processor powering my smartphone, this way I can run all the amazing x86-only apps and be in synergy with the x86 world, I'll dumb my iPhone for one in a heartbeat.

x86 shall prevail! die ARM die!

ARM netbooks (1)

savuporo (658486) | more than 5 years ago | (#28332691)

Somehow the flurry of upcoming ARM-Cortex based netbook and MID launches this summer has escaped Slashdot crowds attention
http://www.engadget.com/tag/arm [engadget.com]
Intel is gonna be so dead in this segment.

Re:ARM netbooks (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 5 years ago | (#28335247)

I don't think it escaped anyone, really.

It's almost as if we've got Intel or Windows fans posting the "pro" postings.

ARM's already IN this space and nearly as fast per clock as Atom and in 6-12 months will be
nipping at the heels of Core's performance profile with the Cortex-A9 with nearly the same
power/performance profile the A8's are already showing to have. This is not saying they're "OMG
FAST!" at this stuff- but then, neither is the Atom, really. What I've had the pleasure of seeing was
a machine that's nearly as fast as the previous and some current attempts at "low-power" X86
CPUs and systems, but consume only about 200-400 mW of juice doing it.

everybody loves intel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28332717)

Because x86 is the bestest evar.

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