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Atom chip on Android smartphones expected at CES

Matt Hamblen | Jan. 5, 2012
LG Electronics and Samsung are expected to unveil Android smartphones next week at CES that use Intel's latest Atom chip, dubbed Medfield, analysts said.

"Security enhancements might do it for Atom smartphones, since Atom's inherently more secure, but security isn't always the biggest selling point," Enderle said. "I really doubt Atom phones would have what it takes to succeed, especially since the ARM makers aren't standing still."

Although Intel is expected to make major news at CES related to chips for ultrabooks, it is also hoping to tap into a smartphone market that will remain robust. Most analysts believe users who rely on a tablet, laptop or ultrabook for inputing long emails and producing detailed content will still want a smartphone.

Intel exited the smartphone chip market when it sold Strongarm chip technology to Marvell and has taken years to build Atom into its Medfield release. "That [sale] was actually a smart decision at the time," Gold said.

Prior to Medfield, Atom chips were power hungry because they spread processing across several pieces of silicon. Medfield is truly on a single chip, making it more efficient and more competitive with ARM-based designs, analysts said.

Although Gold has seen Medfield in operation and was impressed, he hasn't been able to compare it with ARM-based phones.

Even if a smartphone design with Medfield doesn't catch on, analysts said the processor could do well in tablet computers once the Windows 8 operating system appears this year. A beta of Windows 8 is due out in February .

Microsoft could also rely on Atom designs for future Windows Phone 7.5 or 8 devices. "Atom on tablets probably has a better shot than atom on smartphones," Enderle said.

 

 

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