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Intel announce new chipsets for smartphones and tablets at CES 2013

Seven handsets arrived in various markets across the globe last year with one significant difference to their smartphone rivals, they all made use of an Intel-built processor. In the UK the Motorola RAZR i was the first handset we were able to trial using this new architecture, which featured a 2GHz Atom single-core chip toting performance comparable to many dual-core phones on the market at the time.

Intel Atom

The RAZR i’s party piece was its ten shots per second camera burst mode; a feature Intel say was only possible thanks to its new Medfield processor. We’ve now hit CES 2013 and we’re hoping to see what act Intel have put together to follow the Medfield chip and what devices it might feature on.

What is the Intel Atom Z2420?

Mike Bell, VP of Intel’s Mobile and Communications Group kicked off Intel’s keynote with talk surrounding the company’s existing product line, including the aforementioned handsets which featured last year, but what next? It turns out Intel’s follow up to the Medfield is a new chip found in a device targeted at a new market segment, expected to make up nearly 500,000 consumers by 2015.

Intel CES 1

The reference device brought out on stage featured a new 1.2GHz single-core Intel Atom Z2420 chip which despite featuring a lower clock speed that its predecessor (the Atom Z2460 used but the RAZR i), still aims to provide a premium smartphone experience, without losing the modest pricing of the devices it’s expected to arrive in. The reference device itself featured a relatively low-resolution 3.5-inch HVGA (320×480) display, but offered a myriad of features including seven shots-per-second burst mode from the camera, full 1080p HD video recording and playback at 30fps, dual-SIM dual standby support, Intel’s Wireless Display (WiDi) technology and was able to offer up HSPA+ 21Mpbs mobile data speeds, plus it made use of the same GPU as the Motorola RAZR i meaning it would be able to handle many of the Android apps on the Play Store.

That’s another thing, Bell stated that the company have been working closely with Google to ensure that Android running on Intel architecture is solid and stable and compatible too, elements which will no doubt continue to improve as time goes on.

When will the Intel Atom Z2420 become available?

We’re unsure of the arrival of Intel’s second smartphone-focused Atom processor, but we’re assuming it’ll follow a similar path to last year’s Medfield chip arriving sometime in Q3 this year.

Intel CES 2

Which devices will support the Intel Atom Z2420?

Intel confirmed three partners for the new chipset at launch: Acer, Safaricom and Lava. Chances are you haven’t heard of the latter two and that’s likely down to the markets devices sporting the Atom Z2420 are to be featured in. The company highlighted emerging markets as their primary target with this new chip, so should it eventually make its way to the UK, it’ll likely slot in to a low-end, entry level Android device, with a few features that allow it to punch above its weight.

What’s “Bay Trail”?

Mike did also have one other thing to mention, this time on the subject of tablets. For starters the current portfolio of Clover Trail-based Windows 8 tablets will now receive an uprated, more power efficient Clover Trail+ chip, but that wasn’t the news, the next stage of this family of processors was announced, adopting the name Bay Trail.

Intel CES 3

Whilst the Clover Trail architecture offered low-power dual-core computing, tablets using Bay Trail will be utilising a quad-core chipset offering twice the power, but from a 20nm process making it extremely small, despite its size.

When will Bay Trail processors become available?

We were provided with a rough arrival time of summer this year, but we’ll have to wait nearer the time to see who will be offering Bay Trail-powered tablets to consumers.

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