Tuesday, December 27th 2011

Leak: The Intel Medfield Files

VR-Zone have been having a little chat with Intel 'sources', who have leaked some juicy tidbits for us to enjoy in the form performance and power news. The upcoming next generation Medfield platform is Intel's first true System on a Chip (SoC) and is designed to compete with various low power ARM offerings in the tablet space. To help achieve this, they've gone through an internal restructure, merging four business units into just one: Ultra-Mobility, Mobile Wireless, Mobile Communications and Netbook & Tablet PC. The business unit is now simply known as Mobile and Communications. It's being run by Mike Bell and Hermann Eul and the first product to emerge from it will be is the 32 nm Medfield SoC solution.

VR-Zone explained that the competition will be "Apple's A-Series, NVIDIA Tegra, Qualcomm Snapdragon, Samsung Exynos, Texas Instruments OMAP and the likes. Out of all the chips mentioned above, only Samsung's Exynos is currently manufactured in 32nm process, just like Medfield."

There's currently a tablet prototype in Intel's labs based on this chip, which has the following specifications: 1.6 GHz Medfield SoC, 1GB LP-DDR2 (LP = low power) a WLAN/Bluetooth/FM radio chip of unknown origin, eMMC/micro-SD card slot and a 10.1" screen with 1280x800 resolution.

This prototype has been benchmarked using Android 3.x (Honeycomb), while the finished products will be on Android 4.x (Ice Cream Sandwich). In Caffeine 3 it scored around 10,500 points, while the competition scored:

- 7500 points (NVIDIA Tegra 2)
- 8000 points (Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8260
- 8500 points (Samsung Exynos)

As you can see, it gives its ARM competition quite a kicking. There are more test results, but these haven't been revealed. Let's move on now to battery life and this is where power consumption is king. ARM is still top dog here, so Intel is looking to improve the current power consumption figures:

- 2.6 W in idle, with 2 W being the target
- 3.6 W worst case when playing back 720p video in Adobe Flash format, with 2.6 W worst case being the target

With Medfield due soon, the ultra portable market looks set to become very interesting, especially as the huge number of x86 apps can be run on it and this platform is expected to be showcased very soon at CES 2012.
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18 Comments on Leak: The Intel Medfield Files

#1
NirXY
Very nice !
quite surprised Intel managed to achieve this on 32nm (considering it's x86)

if mobile CPU wars is going to continue at this rate we'd probably see a 22nm version sooner than we think
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#2
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
Yes, with the 22 nm Ivy Bridge coming CPU coming up, it would make sense for Intel to use their industry-leading Tri-Gate 22nm tech in this product. It wouldn't surprise me if they pull a rabbit out of a hat and actually do this for the final products. That would seriously wipe the floor with the competition.
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#3
Sasqui
by: qubit
Yes, with the 22 nm Ivy Bridge coming CPU coming up, it would make sense for Intel to use their industry-leading Tri-Gate 22nm tech in this product. It wouldn't surprise me if they pull a rabbit out of a hat and actually do this for the final products. That would seriously wipe the floor with the competition.
This IS good news. They realise that they can't languish in the desktop and laptop space forever. I bought INTC shares after the tri-gate announcement, hoping they'd head in this direction... not to mention the healthy dividend.

OT, thier last quarter kinda sucked and they blamed it on hard drive shortages. in any case, I'm convinced they have the horsepower to grab a big share of the mobile market... eventually, even if the margins aren't that great.
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#4
HalfAHertz
Too bad they didn't test against tegra 3 which by the way is a 40nm part...My guess is 12,000+ points for T3 @ ~1-1.2W ;)
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#5
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
by: HalfAHertz
Too bad they didn't test against tegra 3 which by the way is a 40nm part...My guess is 12,000+ points for T3 @ ~1-1.2W ;)
I'll bet you they did, but are just not saying. "Leaks" like these are a form of marketing and if Tegra performed better, then they're gonna keep damned quiet about it.
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#6
ensabrenoir
Say whatever u want about intel..... they arent resting on being the top dog. If they pull this off...who knows they may even get graphic......naah they really ought to buy nvidia.
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#7
OneCool
by: HalfAHertz
Too bad they didn't test against tegra 3 which by the way is a 40nm part...My guess is 12,000+ points for T3 @ ~1-1.2W ;)
They could be just comparing their dual core solution to others (dual cores).Im sure Intel has a quad core of this in the works.
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#8
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
by: qubit
- 8000 points (Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8260
Just for reference, that's a 45nm chip. Intel's chip has a manufacturing (32nm) advantage.

I do want Intel to succeed in this market because it desperately needs more competition.
Posted on Reply
#9
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
by: ensabrenoir
Say whatever u want about intel..... they arent resting on being the top dog. If they pull this off...who knows they may even get graphic......naah they really ought to buy nvidia.
Intel sure aren't resting, you're right there. But buying nvidia? Those two have a history of bad blood between them, so I reckon that nothing short of a hostile takeover and the departure of nvidia's CEO is gonna do it. :laugh:
Posted on Reply
#10
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
Sounds about right. Intel would also have to change NVIDIA's entire design philosophy from an emphasis on performance to an emphasis on power consumption and heat output. I think Intel would be better off allying with AMD on that front. AMD could use the capital and it could keep anti-trust suits from AMD directed at Intel at bay. AMD has the product Intel needs in a SoC, not NVIDIA.
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#11
HalfAHertz
by: ensabrenoir
Say whatever u want about intel..... they arent resting on being the top dog. If they pull this off...who knows they may even get graphic......naah they really ought to buy nvidia.
Could be, tho don't forget that atom has HT and can work on 4 threads as well.
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#12
Delta6326
sweeeet. But yeah Tegra 3 is quad core.
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#13
Over_Lord
News Editor
22nm and INTEL would be ready I guess.
Posted on Reply
#14
R_1
Tablet SoC-s are miliwatt parts, not 2.5 watt ones, especially when playing video. If iPad-s A5 was a 2.5watt SoC, then (2.5watt SoC+ 2 watt LCD&rest) x 10 hour = 45 watt-hour battery. iPad 2 battery is 24.8 watt-hour, that means A5 has 450 miliwatt power consumption, when playing video. Numbers are even a bit down, because iPad-s real battery life for video playing is longer than 10 hour and that playing time can be achieved even with Wi-Fi streaming video, so some DSP is kicking , adding streaming optimizations and A5 consumption is getting lower to accommodate additional Wi-Fi power. Basically a 5 watt tablet will have ~3 hour battery life at best. Some aditional info about iGPU power consumption will be needed too, because OS GUI and Internet browsing are hardware accelerated.
"2.6 W in idle" - too bad, if that is real.
Posted on Reply
#15
cdawall
where the hell are my stars
by: NirXY
Very nice !
quite surprised Intel managed to achieve this on 32nm (considering it's x86)

if mobile CPU wars is going to continue at this rate we'd probably see a 22nm version sooner than we think
I doubt it. We still have basically a C2D based Atom with a damn FSB. Intel dropped the FSB on other chips how many generations ago now? They will continue to use old tech until they see it to be profitable to improve.

by: ensabrenoir
Say whatever u want about intel..... they arent resting on being the top dog. If they pull this off...who knows they may even get graphic......naah they really ought to buy nvidia.
Please god no Intel video drivers are terrible and I could so see them leading into another FX series disaster.
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#16
Horrux
by: ensabrenoir
Say whatever u want about intel..... they arent resting on being the top dog. If they pull this off...who knows they may even get graphic......naah they really ought to buy nvidia.
Given that it would take intel years to integrate nV into their company, the advantage of this would be discutable. AMD has the lead in the APU business, and Intel can never, ever catch up. Even if they did puchase nv, in 4-5 years when their teams are integrated, where will AMD be? On the APU front, it's all AMD. On the ultra-mobile end of things, it looks like intel is in a very good position with this Medfield thing.
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#17
Wile E
Power User
Looks like Intel is getting serious in the mobile market. Look out ARM, you may finally have a real competitor coming.
Posted on Reply
#18
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
by: Wile E
Looks like Intel is getting serious in the mobile market. Look out ARM, you may finally have a real competitor coming.
Indeed. Also, you should check out the later Atom news posts by my newsie colleagues. :) Intel is most certainly not sitting on its hands with this one!
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