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Intel's 'Medfield' Chases Smartphone, Tablet Leaders

Reports are starting to come in about reference designs for "Medfield," Intel's latest effort to be relevant in the smartphone and tablet conversation.

Back at Computex, Intel highlighted the 32nm Medfield processor, which is a System-on-a-Chip (SoC) technology to compete with ARM-based systems. Design goals included tablets that weighed under 1.5 pounds and provided all-day battery life. The chipmaker's roadmap called for the processors to enter production sometime in 2011 and for Intel OEM partners to come out with Medfield-based tablets in the first half of 2012. At the time, Intel was talking about supporting Google Android, Windows and MeeGo. The MeeGo joint project between Intel and Nokia was scrapped when Nokia entered a long-term partnership with Microsoft.

Reviewers at MIT's Technology Review got their hands on Google Android-based Intel reference designs of a smartphone and tablet based on Medfield. The reference designs are supposed to inspire OEM partners as they create products based on Medfield over the next few months.

Of the smartphone, Technology Review wrote:

The phone prototype seen by Technology Review was similar in dimensions to the iPhone 4 but noticeably lighter, probably because the case was made with more plastic and less glass and metal. ... The 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.

Technology Review called the tablet, running Google's Ice Cream Sandwich OS, "noticeably nicer to use" than older tablets based on Google Honeycomb.

Look for more details on Intel's tablet and smartphone plans around CES.

Posted by Scott Bekker on December 21, 2011 at 11:58 AM