Intel CEO Paul Otellini delivered the mobile Atom CPU (formerly code-named “Medfield“) update at Mobile World Congress. He noted that Intel is “no stranger” to the mobile market, stating that Intel shipped 400 million RF devices in smartphones in 2011. But the company also realizes that it needs to deliver a platform like the Atom Z2460, which partners are now slowly building into handsets around the world.
On the smartphone partner front, Orange is building a mass-market entertainment phone, which will ship in the U.K. and France this summer. Running Intel’s Atom Z2460 system, the phone will come loaded with a variety of Orange entertainment services. Yves Maitre, SVP Mobile Multimedia and Devices for Orange, said his company decided 18 months ago to “address a mass-market position,” while still delivering industry-leading features. “It’s a huge challenge,” said Maitre
India’s Lava plans on delivering a high-end XOLO X900 smartphone, which will feature an Intel 1.6GHz processor, 400MHz GPU and an 8-megapixel camera. Lava Cofounder and Director Vishal Seghal described India as the world’s fastest-growing large smartphone market. China’s ZTE has also joined hands with Intel and will deliver Atom-based handsets later this year.
Missing from the partner list was any company that would deliver Intel-based smartphones in the U.S.
Intel also announced a multi-year strategic alliance with Visa. The companies will work together to bring Visa’s services, including PayWave mobile transactions, to Intel smartphones.
Otellini also spent some time outlining the mobile CPU roadmap. Moore’s law, which states that the number of transistors (and thereby processing power) will double every 18 months, may be too conservative for mobile development. The current Atom CPU is built on a 32 nanometer process. By 2013, it’ll be on a 22nm process and 14 nm by 2014.
Advancements like that make it clear that Intel and its partners will be delivering more and more powerful smartphones over the next two years. Yet, even with heavy-hitter partners like Lenovo (which is shipping the Intel-based K800 in China) and Visa, the chip giant has yet to breakthrough with a smartphone in America, which is thus far dominated by ARM-based mobile CPUs.
Intel may be able to start turning the tide with the introduction of a new low-end Atom mobile CPU, the Z200. Offering 1GHz speeds and a price point that could allow manufacturers to build sub-$150 phones, the Z200 is aimed squarely at the rapidly growing value market.