Intel smartphone chip No. 1 in some benchmarks, says report

An Intel reference design phone with the new chip is showing solid performance in some important benchmarks, beating devices such as the iPhone 4S and Galaxy Nexus, says chip review site Anandtech.

Intel's new chip for smartphones handily beats some of the fastest phones on the market, according to chip review site Anandtech.

Intel's Atom Z2460 "Medfield" delivers "tablet-like scores" on the BrowserMark benchmark, wrote Anand Shimpi. "The Galaxy Nexus running ICS (Ice Cream Sandwich) comes close, but once again Intel expects that on the same OS Medfield should be faster than any of the currently available SoCs (system-on-a-chip)," he said.

Intel announced the Medfield chip Tuesday at CES . The system-on-a-chip will be used in upcoming smartphones--and presumably other devices--from Lenovo and Motorola.

Intel's Medfield Z2460 fares well against phones on the market in the BrowserMark benchmark, says Anandtech.
Inte's Medfield Z2460 fares well against phones on the market in the BrowserMark benchmark, says Anandtech. Anandtech
And does well on the SunSpider Javascript benchmark.
And does well on the SunSpider Javascript benchmark. Anandtech

And it fared well on the SunSpider Javascript yardstick. "Although running what appears to be a stock Gingerbread browser, Intel's Medfield reference platform posts SunSpider performance better than any other smartphone we've tested - including the Galaxy Nexus running Ice Cream Sandwich," Shimpi wrote.

The chip should deliver similar numbers on Ice Cream Sandwich. "Intel promises that Medfield's performance will scale on ICS as well - [so] the gap should be maintained."

On the other hand, Shimpi cautioned that the performance gap may shrink when new phones emerge based on the latest ARM Cortex A15 design. "It's probably safe to assume that things will be different with the Cortex A15," he wrote.

Note that all benchmarks are preliminary because this is an Intel reference design phone (which Intel is showing off on the CES floor) not a commercially available phone.

Intel's Jeff Ross, director of marketing at Intel's Ultramobility Group, holds the Medfield reference design phone.
Intel's Jeff Ross, director of marketing at Intel's Ultramobility Group, holds the Medfield reference design phone. Brooke Crothers

So, what's different this time around for Intel and smartphones? "Intel has been talking about getting into smartphones for a couple of years now, but thus far it hasn't been able to secure a single design or partnership that resulted in a product actually coming to market," Shimpi wrote.

Which, of course, is true. Intel announced a few years back that LG would bring out an Atom-based smartphone. Never happened. Nor did Nokia ultimately bring out a phone based on Intel's Moblin Linux platform.

"This time around, things are different. The major change? Focus, and Google," according to Shimpi. "Intel has ramped up the software engineering engine, going into the Android source code (Gingerbread, Honeycomb and now ICS) and fixing bugs. Intel's goal is to deliver the most stable version of Android as a result of its efforts," he wrote.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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