Intel couldn’t pass the opportunity to release something new at the Mobile World Congress 2014 edition in Barcelona, as everybody is gathered here for the latest and greatest in the world of mobile news. To finally catch up with Apple and its 64-bit A7 System-on-Chip that was introduced with the iPhone 5s, Intel has unveiled its first 64-bit chips both for smartphones and tablets.
The new Atom-branded chips, codenamed Merrifield and Moorefield, come with more performance and better power efficiency than Intel’s current Clover Trail range. Both new chip architectures come with a 22nm process technology. the new Silvermont micro architecture and Power VR Series 6 graphics. This means that Intel is making a big push with smartphones and tablet, trying to catche up with Apple.
Intel also said that it has contributed a 64-bit kernel to Android 4.4.2, but the full 64-bit support depends on “Google’s release timing”. Where Intel can be pointed fingers at for copying Apple, or at least for mimicking their ideas, is the integrated sensor solution. It is said to perform a similar job to Apple’s M7 co-processor, which means it will let smartphone monitor its sensors. Besides uses in fitness tracking, it could also monitor audio and locations, allowing for advanced device personalization.
The new 64-bit chips will come with better LTE support, which means a wider-range of frequencies will be made compatible. Out of the two new chips, Moorefield is the faster one, with four cores, a faster PowerVR G6430 GPU and support for up to 4GB of 800MHz DDR3 RAM. Merrifield is dual-core and comes with a PowerVR G6400 GPU, supporting up to 4GB of 533MHz DDR3 RAM, so it’s tad slower.
What’s really interesting is that Intel already claims that its new chips are better performing than Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 and Apple’s A7, both based on the ARM architecture. According to them, the Merrifield Atom Z3480 is almost twice as fast as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 and slightly faster than the Apple A7 when it comes to browsing. When it comes to graphics, Intel’s Z3480 has proved to be slightly slower than the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, but Moorefield variant, the faster GPU, had a better score.
To say that Intel’s first 64-bit chips are better than today’s top notch SoCs is a pretty far-fetched statement, considering that Intel hasn’t managed yet to come with a chip that would get deployed inside a really successful smartphone. According to Intel, we will see the first devices in the second half of this year, so we’ll be able to draw some conclusions then.