Intel-Processor-Powered Smartphones and Their Performance: A Short Preview

Mar 1, 2013  Print Story

Intel corporation logo
Intel, as you well know, is the leading provider of microprocessors for all kinds of desktops and laptops out there, both Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac. However, the company fondly called Chipzilla, has never been in the top spot among mobile processors.

ARM Holdings has taken a lead in the mobile world with its microarchitecture for processor design, Cortex and its own instruction set. But now as the PC and laptop sales are slowing down and consumers are moving more and more toward tablets and smartphones, it is high time for Intel to make a strong entry into the mobile world.

There are a few smartphones that run Intel processors, and we have seen some of them last year. One of them is Motorola Razr i, which is the counterpart of Droid Razr M for the European countries. There are also some other phones.

Smartphones With Intel Inside


Here is a list of smartphones with Intel processors inside, categorized based on display and availability.

Smartphone Display Processor Availability
Acer Liquid C1

Acer Liquid C1
4.3 inch;
540x960 px
Intel Atom Z2420
1.2 GHz (single core)
Thailand
Lava Xolo X900
Lava Xolo X900
4 inch
1024x600 px
Intel Atom Z2460
1.6 GHz (single core)
India
Lenovo K800
Lenovo K800
4.5 inch; 720x1280 px Intel Atom Z2460
1.6 GHz (single core)
China
Megafon Mint
MegaFon Mint
4 inch Intel Atom Z2460
1.6 GHz (single core)
Russia
Motorola MT788
Motorola MT788
4.3 inch
540x960 px
Intel Atom Z2480
2 GHz (single core)
China
Motorola Razr i smartphone
Motorola Razr i
4.3 inch
540x960 px
Intel Atom Z2460
2 GHz (single core)
Brazil, France,
Germany,
Mexico, and the UK
Orange San Diego
Orange San Diego
4 inch
1024x600 px
Intel Atom Z2460
1.6 GHz (single core)
The UK and France
Safaricom Yolo
Safaricom Yolo
3.5 inch Intel Atom Z2420
1.2 GHz (single core)
Kenya
ZTE Grand X In
ZTE Grand X In
4.3 inch
540x960 px
Intel Atom Z2460
1.6 GHz (single core)
Germany, Hungary,
Norway, Austria,
Sweden,
Poland, Romania,
Greece, Slovakia
Asus FonePad
Asus FonePad
7 inch
1280x800 px
Intel Atom Z2420
1.2 GHz (single core)
The US, Europe
Lenovo K900
Lenovo K900
5.5 inch 1920x1080 px Intel Atom Z2580
dual-core 1.8 GHz
China

As you can see, Intel markets a few smartphones at various parts of the world. Most of these phones are not available in the United States.

Intel has a long way to go to get a foothold in the United States, where Qualcomm and NVidia are ruling mobile processors. Also, one of the largest smartphone OEMs, Samsung has its own processor family, Exynos found in Galaxy smartphones. Apple makes its own microarchitecture and uses Samsung’s fabrication facilities to manufacture its chips. It seems that nobody is approaching Intel to make their SoCs in the US.

Last year, there have been speculations about Apple opting for Intel to design its processors, since rivalry between Apple and Samsung has been intensifying. However, by the time iPhone 5 was released, Apple had come up with its own processor core design called Swift, instead of opting for ARM Cortex.

Intel Processors and Performance


Intel makes mobile processors under the sole brand, Atom. Various processors are there under this brand, but smartphone processors are distinguished by the Z-series, such Z2460, Z2760, etc. Most of the currently available Atom processors are single core. Although the clock speeds of up to 2 GHz are given by these processors, a quad-core processor with 1.4 GHz can perform better than a single core processor with 2 GHz.

We went ahead and fetched a few benchmarks for you to check out.

A more recent, Intel Atom Z2760 processor (dual-core 1.8 GHz) gives only 1355 points in Geekbench 2 benchmarks, while Snapdragon (quad-core 1.5 GHz) on Google Nexus 4 gives 2030 points. Samsung’s Galaxy Note II running Exynos 4412 quad-core 1.6 GHz processor has scored 1936 points. Apple iPhone 5 running A6 dual-core 1.3 GHz processor gives 1589 points.

In addition, after the release of Motorola Razr i smartphone, GSMArena conducted a few benchmarking tests. Here are a few of those results for you.

Motorola Razr i benchmarking

Motorola Razr i benchmarking from GSM Arena

Quadrant Benchmark for Motorola Razr i

GSMArena has found that the JavaScript performance and the browser performance were relatively better with Razr i.

It’s quite clear that Intel’s processors are not performing up to the mark. While desktop processors from Intel are giving stellar performance, mobile processors are not. This is probably one of the reasons why Intel has decided to capitalize on markets other than the US. However, the recent announcement in the Mobile World Congress is a different story. Asus has partnered with Intel to bring out its FonePad device, which is a large 7 inch tablet with calling capabilities.

Intel’s Atom processors that we saw in the above table are codenamed Medfield. They are no match to the existing Snapdragon, Exynos, and Tegra devices in the market.

Intel’s 2013 Atom range includes processors like Z2520, Z2560, and Z2580, which are codenamed Clover Trail+ and they are based on a CPU microarchitecture that Intel calls Saltwell. Lenovo K900 will be a smart phablet to support one of these processors.

Conclusion


K900 is the only device with a high end configuration in the Intel range. Intel’s major advantage with the Atom processor design is that they are quite a bit less power-consuming than most of the other CPUs. However, in order to better compete with a world with such high-performance mobile processors as NVidia Tegra and Qualcomm Snapdragon, Chipzilla has to come up with much better options.

 
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