updated 08:00 am EDT, Wed May 5, 2010
Intel Moorestown finally launches as Atom Z600
Intel today at last launched its first Atom processor designed for smartphones and tablets. Once known as Moorestown, the Z600 and its companion MP20 hub are much more power efficient than regular Atom chips, especially in low-demand situations. It gets a strictly average 4-5 hours of battery life for cellular browsing or video viewing but over 10 days of standby and about 2 days of audio.
The chipmaker also claims much better performance than a typical smartphone, with about 1.5 to 3 times more raw computing power as well as a GMA 600 graphics core that supplies more visual details through OpenGL ES 2.0 and hardware video acceleration. It can record video at 720p and play it back at 1080p. Z600 also supports Hyperthreading, for behaving like two cores in certain cases, and a burst mode that very briefly spikes performance when needed.
To keep the footprint small, Intel is using a full system-on-a-chip with the graphics and most other components built in the chip die itself; the MP20 chiefly handles audio, power, security and USB.
Different processors are available depending on the power demands. Smartphones can run chips up to 1.5GHz, while MIDs and tablets can clock up to 1.9GHz. The new Atoms can support multiple operating systems like Android and MeeGo and should be available immediately for companies to use.
The first devices using the Z600 are small in number and include an Aava Mobile phone; it would run Android with a 3.8-inch, 854x480 touchscreen and carry usual features like 3G, GPS and Wi-Fi. Its release date is unknown; however, OpenPeak's OpenTablet 7 is due only to ship in the second half of the year. LG's once-promised GW990 is now considered a concept and won't be made, although LG hasn't said whether another phone would take its place.
Intel faces an uphill battle as its claims about battery life and performance so far haven't swayed a significant number of phone manufacturers, most of whom using the more established ARM platform. The Z600 was allegedly rejected by Apple as it could get more battery life from ARM. HP may have dropped its Windows 7 slate in part because the combination of a desktop OS and an Atom processor left it with just half the battery life of an iPad.
OpenPeak OpenTablet 7