Intel unveils Atom “Merrifield” SoC for smartphones, tablets

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Intel Corp. on Monday introduced its new Atom Z3400-series system-on-chip code-named “Merrifield” designed for smartphones and tablets. The new application processor is powered by the latest low-power Silvermont micro-architecture, features Imagination Technologies PowerVR 6-series “Rogue” graphics and integrates a host of promising technologies.

Intel Atom Z3400-series “Merrifield” SoC features two 64-bit x86 “Silvermont” cores with Hyper-Threading technology, Imagination Technologies PowerVR G6400 graphics engine (with four compute clusters), dual-channel LPDDR3 memory controller, integrated co-processor designed for managing sensor data, new video processor with support for all modern codecs including VP9 and H.265 (HEVC), new image signal processor with up to 13MP camera support and so on. Intel’s Atom Z3400-series chip will rely on Intel XMM 7160 multi-band multi-mode 4G/LTE modem with support up to 15 LTE bands (up to 150Mb/s download/50Mb/s upload speed) as well as third-party Wi-Fi/Bluetooth chips.

intel atom merrifield1 Intel unveils Atom “Merrifield” SoC for smartphones, tablets

The new Atom “Merrifield” is one of the first system-on-chips compatible with 64-bit Google Android operating system. Intel has developed its own Android kernel that takes advantage of its Silvermont micro-architecture and other peculiarities.

“Sixty-four bit computing is moving from the desktop to the mobile device,” said Renee James, the president of Intel. “Intel knows 64-bit computing, and we’re the only company currently shipping 64-bit processors supporting multiple operating systems today, and capable of supporting 64-bit Android when it is available.”

intel atom roadmap update rdmp 1024x396 Intel unveils Atom “Merrifield” SoC for smartphones, tablets

Intel expects Atom Z3400-series Merrifield-based devices from multiple OEMs to launch beginning in the second quarter.

Intel on Monday also disclosed plans to offer quad-core Atom Z-series “Moorefield” system-on-chip for smartphones and tablets later this year.

Asustek Computer, Dell and Lenovo have confirmed plans to use Intel Atom Z3400-series SoCs. Foxconn, the world’s largest contract producer of electronics, will also utilise Intel’s mobile chips for tablets this year.

KitGuru Says: While the Merrifield chip looks promising and very powerful even for high-end smartphones, it may still not win a lot of contracts with device makers. The main reason is the fact that the Atom Z3400-series does not feature integrated communication capabilities: manufacturers will have to separately acquire XMM 7160 modem as well as Wi-Fi/Bluetooth chips, which makes design of their products more complex and expensive. Nonetheless, thanks to low-power consumption and high-end features, Atom Z3400 may become a popular solution for media tablets as well as high-end smartphones.

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  • fteo_viking

    The price has to come down to Arm levels to fight in the market. Hyping 64bit-ness is not a good idea as Intel’s implementation is not as efficient as Arm. We are back to “Cisc vs Risc” debate where Arm is pure Risc and x86 is not. Still using PVR graphics is a great idea as the Intel graphics suck big time, so a traditional weak area is gone for this chip. It might be a better idea for Intel to boost the Ram speeds and kill those hyperthreading nonsense. As a 32bit chip, it is decent but x64 Android is unknown territory. By the time the Arm V8 chips gets to market in a couple of quarters, this chip will likely get to the bottom of the barrel in the performance charts. It has to get to market quick in order to maintain some share.

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