Just like every prior CES in the past few years, Intel is touting how its chips are ready for mobile devices. The only difference in 2012 is that I’m starting to believe the company. Some of my prior skepticism disappeared after I got a five-minute demonstration of an Intel-powered tablet running Google Android 4.0. Here’s a look so you can see the performance.
Of course, performance usually comes at the price of battery power, and that’s where ARM-based chips shine. These sip power both when in idle mode and in everyday usage. But according to the Intel folks, so does the 1.6 GHz Medfield chip in this Lenovo tablet: eight to 10 hours of run time with 30 days of standby in a tablet as thin as an iPad. Those are ARM-type battery life numbers but with peppy performance.
From what I saw of the tablet, Android apps run perfectly fine, even though the slate has an x86 processor. Because Android applications run in a virtual machine, most developers won’t need to re-complile or have different versions of the same app for Intel-powered tablets. Or smartphones, for that matter.
The same Medfield platform will run Android smartphones offering the same power and performance. Look for the first to come from Motorola and Lenovo, both of which have entered into a long-term partnership with Intel for mobile devices.
People often ask me what the most amazing thing is at CES; for the first time, it might be that Intel may have a chance yet in mobiles, but we’ll see once the first Medfield-based products ship later this year. While we wait, I recommend this excellent AnandTech detailed article about Medfield’s performance and power.