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Intel's 'Tunnel Creek' chip aimed at home tablets

Intel is debuting an Atom processor for home tablets and announcing a partnership with China Mobile.

Intel on Wednesday in Beijing is debuting an Atom processor designed for home tablets and announcing a partnership with China Mobile.

A 'media phone,' as Intel describes it, can serve as a digital photo frame, a Web browser, a home command center, and a phone. Intel

Speaking at the Intel Developer Forum 2010 Beijing, Doug Davis, corporate vice president and general manager of Intel's embedded and communications group, disclosed a future Atom processor code-named "Tunnel Creek" that is targeted at home-use tablets and in-vehicle infotainment systems.

Intel describes always-on tablet devices for the home as "media phones," which can serve as a digital photo frame, MP3 player, a standard Web browsing device, a home command center, and, of course, a phone. (OpenPeak bases its tablet design on Intel's Atom processor.)

Tunnel Creek is based on Intel's Moorestown system-on-a-chip Atom design and combines an Atom core, the memory controller, graphics engine, and video engine. The chip is designed to work with a variety of devices that don't necessarily use accompanying Intel silicon, called chipsets.

Intel-based media phone in the kitchen Intel

The new Atom chip also features enhanced graphics capabilities. So, for example, with in-vehicle infotainment systems, the front seat display could have 3D mapping while the back seat simultaneously displays improved gaming graphics, according to Intel.

On a separate front, Intel Chief Technology Officer Intel Labs Director Justin Rattner showed a concept device for managing energy consumption powered by an Atom processor. The demonstration showed how a homeowner could use the intelligent electronic dashboard to provide ongoing information and suggestions on energy use, thereby reducing power costs.

Partnerships with China Mobile and HawTai Automobile
Intel also announced that it will partner with China Mobile to develop the company's next-generation wireless network infrastructure for a "compute and cloud" model.

"China Mobile has been researching a new Radio Access Network architecture that has...the flexibility to allocate infrastructure resources to varying network load conditions," said Cui Chunfeng, manager of wireless research labs, department of wireless communications, China Mobile Research Institute, in a statement.

"To accomplish this vision we want to utilize Intel architecture in our next generation infrastructure, and tap into the flexibility, scalability and fast rate of innovation of using a software-defined architecture," he said.

And in another tie-up, China's HawTai Automobile discussed how its B11 sedan will include an Intel Atom processor-based in-vehicle-infotainment system in its cars. The system will include Intel's MeeGo operating system, allowing car owners to download car maintenance updates, and an online store will provide access to entertainment applications such as music, real-time weather and navigation.