Intel CEO Otellini: Atom-based Smartphones Due in 2011

At a conference in San Francisco, Intel CEO Paul Otellini said that smartphones powered by the upcoming "Medfield" chip should begin hitting the market in the second half of 2011.

Smartphones powered by Intel Atom processors should start appearing on the market in the second half of 2011, according to company President and CEO Paul Otellini.

Speaking at the Barclays Capital Global Technology Conference in San Francisco Dec. 8, Otellini reportedly said the new smartphones will be powered by Intel's upcoming "Medfield" 32-nanometer Atom processor.

The move would enable Intel to become a much more significant challenger to ARM Holdings, whose chip designs are used by such vendors as Qualcomm, Samsung and Texas Instruments, and are found in most of the smartphones on the market today. Intel officials have made no secret of their desire to expand the company's reach beyond its traditional PC and server businesses, and they see the rapidly growing and increasingly competitive smartphone space as a natural target market.

According to a Reuters report, Otellini said he saw the looming competition with ARM as a "marathon, not a sprint."

Medfield reportedly is sampling now and will be shipping next year and in 2012. Otellini reportedly did not mention names of manufacturers who will roll out the Atom-based smartphones.

During the same talk, Otellini also said that tablet PC makers have said they will use Intel's Atom processors in 35 different tablet designs. Apple reinvigorated the tablet PC space earlier this year with the launch of its iPad, and now controls more than 90 percent of the market.

Click here for a look at some Atom-powered tablets.

However, challengers are beginning to come onto the market, and a host of vendors-from Dell and Samsung to Research In Motion, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo-are coming out with their own tablet PCs, and Intel officials want in on the market. At its Intel Developer Forum in September, the company had a wide range of tablets on display running Atom, some of which were on the market. More such systems are expected to be put on display during the Consumer Electronics Show next month.

While Otellini spoke, a slide behind him listed a number of brands, including Dell, Asus, Lenovo and Toshiba, according to Reuters.

Intel has two Atom platforms for tablet PCs-"Oak Trail" for tablets running Windows, and "Moorestown" for those running Google's Android mobil OS and MeeGo, a Linux-based operating system developed by Intel and Nokia.

Intel rival Advanced Micro Devices also is planning a push into tablets. AMD's roadmap includes "Krishna" and "Wichita," 28-nm processors that are due out in 2012. The two- and four-core processors will be APUs (accelerated processing units), which have the graphics processor and CPU on the same piece of silicon.

Just as Intel and AMD are planning incursions into fields traditionally dominated by ARM-designed chips, ARM is taking aim at the data center, particularly for smaller servers used in such environments as cloud computing. ARM officials several months ago unveiled plans for its Cortex-A15 processor design, which includes such key server features as support for virtualization, up to 16 cores and more memory capacity.

Chip and systems makers also are looking to push ARM designs into the data center. Marvell in November showed off its quad-core Armada XP chip, which runs at 1.6GHz and includes a such server features as up to 2MB of Level 2 cache and 4 PCI Express Gen 2.0 units. Calxeda-formerly known as Smooth-Stone-also is looking to ARM-designed chips for servers.