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Early reports of Medfield being a "battery guzzler" appear to be inaccurate

Intel Corp. (INTC) isn't pushing its Intel Atom (Medfield sub-family) powered smartphones as hard in 2012 as some expected.  The hot question on the minds of many is whether Intel's decision to wait until 2013 for the "big push" was merely strategic or due to some underlying battery life issues.  Those questions were further stoked by early reports from sites whose benchmarks on early Medfield samples showed the processor to be powerful, but battery hungry.

I. Medfield's Battery Life Pleasantly Surprises 

AnandTech has just completed a thorough benchmarking of one of the early Intel smartphones -- the just-launched LAVA Xolo X900, and the result indicate that early battery life concerns were unwarranted.

For those scratching their heads in puzzlement, LAVA Mobile Phones is a small Indian smartphone maker, which is quickly rising in sales thanks to strong regional sales in southeast Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.  The Xolo X900 is one of the first phones to pack an Intel x86 smartphone chip.  The phone currently comes loaded with Gingerbread, but reportedly will be upgradeable to Google Inc.'s (GOOG) latest Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" distribution.

Lava Xolo X900
The Lava Xolo X900 [Image Source: Anandtech]

Performance-wise, the battery is an immediate point of interest.  AnandTech's Brian Klug comments:

The x86 power myth is finally busted. While the X900 doesn't lead in battery life, it's competitive with the Galaxy S 2 and Galaxy Nexus. In terms of power efficiency, the phone is distinctly middle of the road - competitive with many of the OMAP 4 based devices on the market today. If you've been expecting the first x86 smartphone to end up at the bottom of every battery life chart, you'll be sorely disappointed. 

Indeed, despite having a petite 5.4 watt-hour internal battery (6 watt-hours is becoming standard for Android flagship phones), the device settles squarely in the middle of the pack, battery-life wise, actually besting some Androids with bigger batteries, such as the 6.66 watt-hour Droid RAZR.

Of course, Apple, Inc. (AAPL) demonstrate that operating system design still trumps battery size or CPU design, posting more than double the battery-life while web-browsing of the Intel Android (to Apple's credit, it astoundingly beats the Droid RAZR MAXX whose 12.54 watt-hour battery is almost two-and-a-half times as big as Apple's 5.291 watt-hour battery).

II. CPU is Competent, but Out-Performed by the Hottest ARM Chips

When it comes to Androids, part of Intel's decent performance may have come by scaling back the core-architecture.  The Z2460 Medfield in the Xolo X900 is clocked at 1.6 GHz, but it is outperformed in most tests by 1.5 GHz MSM8260A, the Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) Snapdragon 4 found in the HTC One S, the sister phone of HTC Corp.'s (TPE:2498) HTC One X.  The Tegra 3 from NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA) -- found in the U.S. version of the One X also squeaks by the Atom in many tests.

Intel's biggest win CPU-wise comes in the Sunspider Javascript benchmark, so if you do a lot of script-heavy web work or gaming Intel's chip could be good news for you.

GPU-wise there's few surprises as the Intel chip contains a licensed PowerVR SGX540 intellectual property core from Imagination Technologies plc. (LON:IMG), the same GPU found in many Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KS:005930) smartphones (albeit with a higher 400 MHz clock).

III. Outlook

Intel's 2013 mobile efforts will be highlighted by a 2013 die-shrink to 22 nm, the feature size it's currently building personal computer CPUs on.  Given that Intel has matched its ARM competitors in battery life and posted decent, but uninspired computing performance this generation, it's very possible that the die shrink will push it ahead of its nemesis ARM Holdings plc's (LON:ARM) chipmaking alliance.  Of course ARM Holdings has a little something called ARM Cortex-A15 lurking in store for Intel in 2013, so it's anyone's guess who might come out on top.

China's ZTE Corp. (SHE:000063) and the Hong Kong-based Lenovo Group, Ltd. (HKG:0992) are also making x86 Intel-droids, which may make it to the U.S. shores sometime in late 2012.

Source: Anandtech

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RE: Medfield vs Krait/A15
By Reclaimer77 on 4/25/2012 4:57:14 PM , Rating: 1
You gave the same song and dance about Ivy Bridge, Goty. I guess Intel can't do anything right and they shouldn't even try unless EVERYTHING they release is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

So, basically, Intel isn't going to be able to compete in the high-end smartphone space with this chip.

Nor was that EVER the intention with this design. How insightful of you though /sarcasm.

It should be impressive and significant enough that there's an x86 smartphone that's competitive at all. As a proof of concept by Intel, this is a landmark event.

Are you just an Intel naysayer, or this negative in general about everything?

RE: Medfield vs Krait/A15
By wordsworm on 4/25/2012 6:29:09 PM , Rating: 3
Some folks believe you're either number one, on your way up, or you're nothing. Wasn't so long ago that most folks counted Apple as a dead company. Sometimes they're up, sometimes they're down. That's the nature of it all. RIM might be down, but it could be in five years they'll be number one. Or hell, maybe it'll be Intel ruling the roost in 10 years. All this competition is a good thing, and yet people are always whining about it.

RE: Medfield vs Krait/A15
By Goty on 4/25/2012 8:49:36 PM , Rating: 2
From the AT review:

Ultimately Intel's first smartphone is a foot in the door. It's what many said couldn't be done, and it's here now. What it isn't however is a flagship. To lead, Intel needs an updated Atom architecture, it needs to be on 22nm, and it needs a faster GPU - at a minimum. All of this needs to come in a reference design that's not just good enough, but better than the rest.

Wait, you mean I agree with the person who actually has it in their hands and has used it? *GASP*

Again, your fanboyish nature leads you to believe that every comment about Intel that isn't absolutely glowing is automatically an indictment of the company and/or product in question, when that's certainly not the case. As you'll recall, I said that, taken in a vacuum, IVB is a great product, but that it simply does not shine in comparison with its predecessor. The same sort of thing applies to Medfield, with the caveat that its competition (Krait/A15 based SoCs) is actually faster and more power efficient.

Nor was that EVER the intention with this design.

Yep, Intel wants to enter the market and be mediocre. That's exactly how they got to where they are today, right? Again, from the article:

On the one hand it's a good thing that you can't tell an Intel smartphone apart from one running an ARM based SoC, on the other hand it does nothing to actually sell the Intel experience. Intel is never taken seriously in markets where it relies on being good enough, and it moves mountains in those where it's the best. That's what Intel needs to really build credibility in the smartphone space.

Hrmm, another quote that supports my position....

Please continue amusing yourself by trying to spin my position in whatever way makes you happiest; it's tremendously entertaining to the rest of us.

RE: Medfield vs Krait/A15
By Reclaimer77 on 4/25/2012 9:24:03 PM , Rating: 2
As you'll recall, I said that, taken in a vacuum, IVB is a great product, but that it simply does not shine in comparison with its predecessor.

Sandy Bridge is "tock", Ivy Bridge is "tick". If I have to keep explaining why critically judging Ivy Bridge based on a mature Sandy Bridge is looking at it from the totally wrong angle, I'm going to keep assuming you know jack about this topic.

Yep, Intel wants to enter the market and be mediocre. That's exactly how they got to where they are today, right?

You have to enter the market at some point. Pretty sure Intel knew from internal testing this wouldn't be a world beater. But given the CONTEXT of what this phone is, it's still impressive. And it's only going to get better.

And did you even look at the goddamn benchmarks? Call this "mediocre" is a slap in the face honestly. You're just ignorant.

Yeah that's REAL mediocre there. What are you smoking?

Pointing out that this isn't on par with A15 just makes you sound like a naysayer. We know it's not, thank you Captain Obvious.

RE: Medfield vs Krait/A15
By Goty on 4/25/2012 10:03:17 PM , Rating: 1
You are just comically out of touch with reality here; it really is amazingly entertaining. Medfield can't compete with products currently on the market, yet you somehow want criticize my comment that Intel can't compete at the top of the cell phone market with it. You jsut utterly ignore ALL evidence and commentary to the contrary and create your own little world where Intel is the best at EVERYTHING and has never been anything less than amazing. You probably owned a Prescott P4 and thought it was light-years ahead of the Athlon 64, didn't you?

RE: Medfield vs Krait/A15
By Spuke on 4/25/2012 10:02:16 PM , Rating: 2
I guess you haven't read the Anandtech benchmarks LOL!!! It looks solidly in the pack to me. Impressive to say the least. I was worried it couldn't compete but it does. It's all right there on Anandtech. The obviousness of this really makes you look like an idiot.

Now I have really high hopes for the Win8 tablets.

RE: Medfield vs Krait/A15
By Goty on 4/25/12, Rating: 0
RE: Medfield vs Krait/A15
By Reclaimer77 on 4/26/2012 10:18:32 AM , Rating: 3
So for this to be viable in any way, at all, it has to best quad core superphones like the HTC One X in every benchmark? It beats my phone in nearly EVERY benchmark, and last time I checked the Galaxy S2 is still a decent phone by any measure.

I'm not saying I'm going to run out and buy one or that everyone should. But you're just totally missing the relevance here. Stubbornly refusing to acknowledge any positives or the significance of x86 being efficient enough to run a smartphone.

And you can just stop with the aristocratic attitude of opinions other than yours as being "lawl too much entertainment hahaah". Grow up.

RE: Medfield vs Krait/A15
By Goty on 4/26/2012 2:55:13 PM , Rating: 2
I still don't get what part of "high-end smartphone market" you don't understand. Congrats, Medfield can beat the SGSII in CPU benchmarks; the only problem is that the SGSII is no longer a high-end phone.

As for refusing to acknowledge any positives, that would be the case if I were to come out and say "Medfield is doomed! It will never sell! There's one whole class of phones better than it at everything, so it's pointless!" If you'll recall (all the way from that first sentence up there), that is not and has never been my stance, though you'd dearly like to make that out to be the case.

Ah, and as for the "grow up" comment, you might want to turn that right back on yourself there kiddo. I respond respectfully to those who show respect and give rational arguments, of which you do neither. Learn how to have a respectful, intelligent discussion and things will move along just peachily.

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates

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