IDF 2012 | Intel details Medfield, Clover Trail for mobile platforms
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Buried in the mass of Haswell exhibitions lies Intel's next generation of Atom, the Medfield and Clover Trail platforms for smartphones and tablets, respectively. According to Shreekant Thakkar, one of the designer's of the Atom architecture, the new 32 nm platforms will have an even stronger focus on battery life while adding additional performance options simultaneously.
As an example, multiple new low-power states are now available for the CPU, ranging from C1 (most active) to C6 (least active) and S01 (most active idle state) to S03 (least active idle state). When in the S03 state, Thakkar claims only microwatts of power is required by the platform. The Slice Shutdown method allows for inactive sections to be shut down completely when not in use, thus allowing the additional low-power states for the chipset. Compared to Moorestown, the die is 17 percent smaller with up to 60x the power reduction in the idling state.
Another more unique method for increasing battery life is Intel's new Burst Performance Technology that allows the CPU to run at higher frequency levels for an increased burst of performance for a very short time. Interestingly, total power draw at this higher power state is less than if the core was running at a lower frequency to achieve the same performance level by a claimed 20 percent.
On the performance side, Intel is hyping its usual Hyper-Threading Technology adapted to the in-order execution architecture of the Atom family for a potential 39 percent increased performance for only 17 percent greater power draw. With almost half of the 4150 square millimeter boardsize devoted to graphics and user experience such as 2D/3D graphics, video encoding and display controllers, products powered by Medfield will be able to support up to 3 concurrent displays, 1080p30 videos, and up to 16 MP cameras with improved image processing at low light environments.
Details regarding the dual-core successor to Medfield (Clover Trail) were low and the 22 nm Bay Trail even lower, but Thakkar was very keen on stressing the importance of improving architectural designs over simply adding more cores for more performance. Clover Trail is expected to be fully compatible with Windows 8 when released next year.