LONDON – Two Atom processor chip sets to be launched Monday (Feb. 27) by Intel during the Mobile World Congress (MWC) will target high- and low-end smartphones.
The high-end Atom chip set is designed to extend the performance of smartphones up to LTE category 3 data rates. The other chip set targets “value” smartphones costing less than $190, a market Intel said is growing at an annual rate of 50 percent.
The new chip sets follow an announcement by Intel during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that it is pairing its Z2460 Pennwell chip with the 6260 modem IC developed by Infineon's wireless business unit, now part of Intel's Mobile Communications Group.
In Barcelona, Intel is expected to announce a dual-core Z2580 processor paired with the XMM7160 modem chip.
While the Z2460 has a single Saltwell core clocked at 1.6 GHz and a single PowerVR SGX540 graphics core from Imagination Technologies clocked 400 MHz, the performance-focused Z2580 employs dual Saltwells clocked at a 1.8-GHz maximum and a dual-core PowerVR SGX544 clocked at 533 MHz.
Intel executives said the combination should provide high-end performance requirements by 2013. The chip set will support 2G/3G and 4G LTE modems up to 100 Mbps/50 Mbps performance. In HSPA+ mode, it supports 42 Mbps/11.5 Mbps. The addition of LTE category 3 performance and a doubling of HSPA+ capability is one of the main additions above the Z2460/XMM6260.
Intel declined to provide power consumption figures for the Z2580/XMM7160. Intel is currently performing benchmarking analysis, the executives said. Sampling of the chip sets is scheduled for the second half of 2012, with customer products expected to appear in the first half of 2013.
Meantime, Intel has increased the maximum clock frequency on its single-cored Z2460 to 2 GHz.
To address the value end of the market, Intel is offering the Z2000 Atom processor with the XMM6265 modem. The Z2000 is essentially the same as the Z2460 at a lower price and is rated as only operating to a maximum clock frequency of 1 GHz. "It is essentially the same chip de-featured, but it is still feature-rich," said Intel’s Sumeet Syal, with Intel.
The SGX540 graphics core is limited to a 320-MHz clock frequency but can still provide 1080p video decoding and 720p video encoding while supporting a primary camera of up to 8 megapixels. The modem chip has been improved with some features aimed at supporting price plans and business models in emerging markets. One of these is a dual-sim/dual-standby capability.
Syal noted that most chip sets in the value smartphone sector operate in the 500-MHz to 800-MHz clock frequency range. "We want to push the performance envelope in this part of the market," he said.
The Z2000/XMM6265 is a modification to the previously announced Z2460/XMM6260, a chip set considered closer to the value market. Syal said samples would be ready by mid-year, with customer products shipping early in 2013.
Intel is expected to make further smartphone customers announcements at MWC. During CES, Intel announced that Lenovo and Motorola are customers.