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Intel announces Atom X3 SoFIA, its new best hope for smartphone relevance

Mark Hachman | March 3, 2015
At Mobile World Congress, Intel unwraps details on its Atom chips—the X3, X5, and X7—which will appear in mobile devices later this year.

But here, too, Intel said that customers should focus on performance, rather than power. Josh Newman, the general manager of tablets and 2-in-1 devices for Intel, said that the the new Cherry Trail chips should have "significant improvement in graphics, gen[eration] on gen[eration], with some of the significant user experiences that I talked about." Meanwhile, Newman said, power consumption will be roughly equivalent to prior-generation Bay Trail chips. That's somewhat surprising, given that the Bay Trail parts were fabricated at 22-nm, and the Cherry Trail Atom X5 and X7 are 14-nm chips.

Newman's "user experiences," however, include the RealSense depth cameras that Intel began talking about last year, where the CPU is used for fun effects such as "refocusing" the camera after the shot and calculating the length of objects in the scene. Intel's TrueKey security and Pro WiDi technologies could also appear.

Hardware makers that buy Intel's parts could also design 3G tablets. Intel will show off separate LTE/Bluetooth/WiFi radios, known as its AC 8X70, together with its GNSSS 2x00 GPS chip and NFC 4000 NFC controller.

Still, the new Atoms represent a notable achievement for Intel, which hasn't made a viable run at the smartphone market since 1999's StrongARM processor. Will it be able to exploit the niche? Time will tell.


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