Intel has shrunk its phone SoC to 22nm and the dual-core chip called Merrifield is up and running. We had a chance to see a few phones based on the new part and actually play with one of them for a few minutes. The phone is an Intel reference platform with a 720p screen and iPhone looking design. It has PowerVR 6400 graphics that you know from iPhone 5S.
It is not the thinnest phone we saw, but it is definitely the only one with x86 support and with XMM 7260 it can deliver LTE Cat 6 support. This is not a high end phone, the reference design targets the (over)crowded mainstream market, but it is first of many for Intel.
The phone is codenamed Salt Bay and it was running Android 4.4.2 and modified 64-bit capable kernel, but just for internal testing purposes only. This was Intel’s way of getting ready for 64-bit Android OS whenever it becomes available.
Intel believes that battery life is on par with competition and that you don’t need more than two cores for most of the applications, except benchmarketing.
Qualcomm on the other hand is still on 28nm, but it has CPU, GPU, wireless as well as LTE all in one package while Intel has to offer a few chips in order to get the same functionality. We believe that Intel is on right track and that it will get more success in tablets and phones in 2014 and especially in 2015.
Intel is beating the competition to 20/22nm with its SoC and within a year if not less we expect to see 14nm SoC based on Airfield architecture too. We expect to see first ARM 20nm SoC processors later this year.