ARM says Intel phone chips are "good enough"

ARM CEO Warren East doesn’t appear to be particularly worried about Intel’s entry into the RISC-dominated smartphone market with its x86 Medfield SoC.

Indeed, Lenovo is planning to release an Intel-powered phone by mid-summer, while a Motorola handset is promised by the end of the year.

The Medfield chip is a single-core, 32nm processor, clocked at 1.6GHz and supports hyper-threading.

It’s claimed to be particularly low-power: Intel says that a prototype unit could manage eight hours of 3G voice calls, six hours of 1080p video decoding or five hours of 3G internet browsing.

“It’s inevitable Intel will get a few smartphone design wins – we regard Intel as a serious competitor,” East told Reuters on the sidelines of CES 2012.

“[But] are they ever going to be the leaders in power efficiency? No, of course not. But they have a lot more to offer.”

According to East, Intel’s latest mobile chips are “good enough,” but can’t really compete with ARM’s next-gen, ultra low power sipping architecture.

“Intel has taken some designs that were never meant for mobile phones,” East explained. 

“[Basically], they’ve literally wrenched those designs and put them into a power-performance space which is roughly good enough for mobile phones.”

East also commented on Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 operating system, saying that he was “excited” about the opportunity it presented for ARM SoCs like those licensed by Qualcomm and Nvidia.

“Google’s Android is flavor of the month, flavor of the year, and we certainly want to be part of the Google success… But there is a space for Microsoft, and we very much want to be a part of that success too,” he added.