Breaking new ground
There has been a lot of competition among the makers of ARM based SoCs for mobile devices from the likes of Qualcomm, NVIDIA and Marvell at CES 2010, but the elephant in the room is Intel, which has made its smartphone ambitions clear for some time now.
Intel's low power roadmap started with Atom but has now evolved to Moorestown. Atom is neither small nor low-power enough to be put in a handheld device but, judging by the handsets Intel expects to be launched in the second half of this year, Moorestown is.
In the Intel videos below Pankaj Kedia of Intel's ultra mobility group demonstrates the LG GW990, which runs on Moorestown, but seems to use LG's own OS and UI. The UI looks impressive and the processor clearly packs a punch, but the handset looks in the chunky side by today's standards.
The second video shows a handset from Finnish company AAVA Mobile, which was only formed in 2009, presumably with Intel collaboration in mind. It's running Intel's Mobilin 2.1 - a Linux OS designed by Intel specifically for mobile devices.
Moorestown is expected to still be significantly more power hungry than ARM SoCs like Snapdragon, which could result in chunkier handsets and shorter battery life. On the flip side, Moorestown based devices will be able to run full Windows and thus offer access to all the Microsoft applications the world has become used to.
These pros and cons, and how effective Intel is at further reducing the size and power requirements of its next generation of low power processor - codenamed Medfield - will determine the future success of Intel's mobile phone efforts. Additionally, Intel finds itself in the unfamiliar position of trying to penetrate a market dominated by another player - the ARM ecosystem.