Competent But No Clear Winner: Intel Medfield Surprises Battery Life-Wise
April 25, 2012 3:23 PM
Early reports of Medfield being a "battery guzzler" appear to be inaccurate
Intel Corp. (
) isn't pushing its Intel Atom (
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
showed the processor to be powerful, but battery hungry.
I. Medfield's Battery Life Pleasantly Surprises
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
, but reportedly will be upgradeable to Google Inc.'s (
) latest Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" distribution.
The Lava Xolo X900 [Image Source: Anandtech]
Performance-wise, the battery is an immediate point of interest.
'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
Of course, Apple, Inc. (
) 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
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. (
found in the
HTC One S
, the sister phone of HTC Corp.'s (
) HTC One X. The
Tegra 3 from NVIDIA
) -- found in the U.S. version of the One X also squeaks by the Atom in many tests.
GPU-wise there's few surprises as the Intel chip contains a licensed PowerVR SGX540 intellectual property core from Imagination Technologies plc. (
), the same GPU found in many Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (
) smartphones (albeit with a higher 400 MHz clock).
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
) 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. (
) and the Hong Kong-based Lenovo Group, Ltd. (
also making x86 Intel-droids
, which may make it to the U.S. shores sometime in late 2012.
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