LG first to tap Intel's 'Moorestown' chip for smartphone

The successor to Intel's current Atom processor will be part of a collaboration based on Intel's silicon and the Linux Moblin v2.0 software platform.

Brooke Crothers
Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
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.
2 min read

The Intel architecture is coming to smartphones.

LG Electronics and Intel are announcing a collaboration based on Intel's Moorestown silicon and the Linux Moblin v2.0 software platform at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday. The future LG device--which is being described as a smartphone--is expected to be one of the first Moorestown designs to market.

Moorestown is the code name for the successor to Intel's current Atom processor.

"LG and Intel's common goal is to unleash rich Internet experiences across a range of mobile devices while delivering the functionality of today's high-end smartphones," the companies said in a statement.

The key to getting Intel chips that run all the most popular PC software into a phone is reducing the power consumption below the Atom chip used today in Netbooks, according to Ashok Kumar, an analyst at investment bank Collins Stewart. "If you look at the power consumption projectory, they dropped Atom to two watts and they expect to drop that (with Moorestown) by a factor of 10," Kumar said.

"That would squarely be in the power envelope of a smartphone," Kumar said. Intel mobile processors found in mainstream laptops have a thermal envelope of between 25 and 35 watts.

But whether Moorestown can actually achieve the energy frugality of silicon from longtime cell phone silicon suppliers like Qualcomm and Texas Instruments remains to be seen. Toshiba recently disclosed that its using Qualcomm's Snapdragon chip in a future phone and Qualcomm supplied the main processor in the first phone using Google's Android OS.

Moorestown will also be used in MIDs or mobile Internet devices. And it seems, at times, that the terms smartphone and MID are used almost interchangeably. "The MID segment will drive growth at LG Electronics. We chose Intel's next-generation Moorestown platform and Moblin-based OS to pursue this segment because of the high performance and Internet compatibility this brings to our service provider customers," Jung Jun Lee, executive vice president of LG Electronics, said in a statement.

Neither company gave a date for availability of the LG device, but it is expected to appear soon after Moorestown is available. Intel is saying that Moorestown will be available in 2009 or 2010, though the second half of 2009 appears increasingly likely.