Intel’s latest Atom-based wireless chip-set Medfield is a product of desperation rather than inspiration, Sy Choudury, director of product management at Qualcomm tells SlashGear at MWC.
“Medfield is a good product in that it works” says Choudury, “their previous devices all failed.”
ARM CEO Warren East made much the same point to the Wall Street Journal, though more politely: “We think from a technical point of view the Intel solution is much better than it has ever been before for smartphones, but they are still a generation or two behind.”
At CES in Janaury, East said Intel’s designs were “roughly good enough for mobile phones.”
East points out that ARM’s business is: “Delivering real solutions in a phone environment – that’s what the ARM partnership has been doing for the last 15 years or so, and that’s what Intel is getting to grips with right now. ARM’s building on that lead, taking that system expertise that we’ve built up over the last 15 years or so and turning it into things like Big-Little which we announced back in October, where we have the benefits of high performance with a big processor married in a seamless way to the power efficiency of a small processor.”
“That sort of system-level solution is moving the goalposts significantly, so you end up with something that has the performance of a Cortex-A8, a smartphone of 2 or 3 years ago delivered in a power envelope that uses about 20% of the power,” adds East, “and so we’re continually moving those competitive goalposts.”
And that’s pretty much in tune with how Qualcomm feels about Intel’s wireless chips: “They’re getting better,” says Choudury, “but so are we.”
Compounding Intel’s problems with wireless chip-sets are the company’s internal politics which deny any business unit, except the PC business unit, access to the company’s latest manufacturing processes.
Intel’s wireless chips are not due to be put onto its upcoming 22nm process until 2013, and will not be made on a leading-edge process until Intel introduces 14nm processing probably around 2014/15.
Meanwhile, TSMC/ARM are already making ARM-based chip-sets in volume production quantities on 28nm, and expect to move onto a 20nm process later this year and onto a 14nm process next year.