In the next 18 months, LG Electronics will offer the first mobile Internet device and smartphone that uses Intel's Atom processor technology. This yet-to-be named smartphone and MID device is based on Intel's "Moorestown" that includes a 45-nm Intel Atom processor. The handset device also uses Linux-based Moblin software as well as Ericsson's 3G wireless technology. LG and Intel plan to announce their partnership at the Mobile World Congress show this week.
is planning to bring Intel's Atom processor and platform to the
smartphone market for the first time in 2010 with a mobile Internet device based
on the upcoming Intel "Moorestown" platform.
At the Mobile World Congress conference, which kicks off Feb. 16 in Barcelona,
and LG plan to announce their new partnership and offer some details of the
yet-to-be-named LG MID. While Intel and LG are already talking about this
particular MID, LG does not expect to release the handset device until 2010.
The LG MID and smartphone handset will be based on Intel's Moorestown
platform that is slated to hit the market in 2010. At the heart of the platform
is a system-on-a-chip code-named "Lincroft," which is based on the 45-nanometer
Intel Atom processor.
While the Intel Atom processor has been mainly associated with "netbooks"
and other types of mininotebooks, Intel also has plans to use the x86 chip
technology for a number of different MIDs that can access the Web. The LG
announcement confirms Intel's long-rumored other plans for Atom: a chip that
looks to challenge ARM's dominance in the
Intel has tried to enter the cell phone and smartphone market before,
although with limited success. Instead, ARM
has become the processor of choice, and if Intel were to try to enter the
market again, it would face competition from the likes of Qualcomm, Samsung,
Texas Instruments and Freescale.
At the same time, ARM
processors, such as the Cortex-A8 and A9, are offering more performance
low power and are even seen as alternative processors for netbooks and other
Additionally, Intel and LG have to persuade telecom carriers to support this
new device, which is not guaranteed. Still, Intel and LG could find a lot of
success in the handset market, especially as the world looks for more mobile
solutions to access the Internet.
"Intel is still a key innovator in the market," said Jim McGregor, an analyst
with InStat. "The Atom processor is a success, and with the Moorestown
platform, they are taking it down into a realm where it is actually competitive
for these mobile solutions. ... Do they have an edge when it comes to ARM?
No. Intel does not have relationships with the entire ecosystem."
However, Intel does have an advantage when it comes to marketing dollars and
a strong research and development organization that could overcome many
obstacles. Intel also has an advantage when it comes to software compatibility,
especially compared with ARM.
While LG did not offer many details about this MID device, including pricing
and specific availability, Intel has been fairly open about what the Moorestown
platform can offer users.
For example, Intel engineers have described the Lincroft SOC design as a combination
of a 45-nanometer CPU along with graphics, the memory controller, and video
encoding and decoding technologies all packaged into a single package for MIDs.
In addition, Intel will also offer an I/O hub-code-named "Langwell"-that will
allow a MID to connect to wireless, storage and display devices.
The Moorestown platform can also support a number of
wireless technologies, including 3G, WiMax, GPS,
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. In addition, Intel has struck a deal with Ericsson to
provide HSPA (High-Speed Packet Interface) technology for the platform. LG
plans on using Ericsson's broadband module to provide 3G technology with this
In order to overcome the lock that ARM
has had on the smartphone market, Intel also has to ensure that its x86
technology can work within a sub-watt thermal envelope. Right now, Intel has
said that Moorestown will offer a 10 times reduction in
idle power use compared with the previous MID platform.
In his opinion, McGregor said the Moorestown platform
needs to work within a 500-milliwatt envelope for Intel's technology to compete
again similar ARM processor offerings.
Although Intel has said it wants to continue to reduce the power usages of its
processors, the company has not specifically announced how far it can push Moorestown
in terms of power consumption.
Finally, the LG MID will use the Intel-developed Moblin operating system,
which is based on open-source technology. Intel announced the Linux-based
operating system at one of its Developer Forums in 2008, and the LG MID will
use the second-generation version of the Moblin OS.
While Moblin is considered open-source software, McGregor admits that it has
been specifically designed to work with Intel's x86 microarchitecture. The
question is whether LG will stick with Moblin or eventually
seek out some other type of operating system, specifically Google's Android
"Right now, these handset vendors are going to be testing the waters with
new products in one of the harshest environments out there," said McGregor.
"They are going to be testing the waters with Moblin, with Android, with x86
and with ARM."