Intel's Medfield smartphone chip now in production

The chip, for low-priced smartphones, will ship later this year

Intel on Monday said its Medfield chip, designed for low-end smartphones, is in production and will ship later this year.

Tablets using Intel's Oak Trail chips will ship this year, before Medfield will appear in products, according to Anand Chandrasekher, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Ultra Mobility Group, who spoke at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Chandrasekher gave few details of Medfield other than to say it will have the fastest processor on the market, the same standby time as chips from competitors and the longest active power use time of any chip. Intel in the past has said that the new chip, which includes an Atom CPU, will also deliver improved graphics capabilities.

Medfield is a chip that combines an Atom CPU with a number of specialized cores for functions such as graphics accelerators. Medfield will succeed Intel's first smartphone chip, code-named Moorestown, which has failed to find traction in the smartphone market.

But the question remains whether Intel can get manufacturers to adopt Medfield. No smartphones with Intel chips are available yet. LG Electronics showed a smartphone based on Moorestown last year, but it was never sold. Intel on Friday said a phone with Intel chips will ship later this year, but did not name the phone maker.

Intel showed off some Oak Trail tablets at last month's Consumer Electronics Show. PC makers said that tablets based on the chip can run for up to eight hours on a single battery charge and play 1080p high-definition video.

Chandrasekher also said that Intel is accelerating LTE (Long Term Evolution) communication chip development. The company plans to sample them this year in time for inclusion in products for the end-of-year holidays in 2012. Intel's HSPA+ chip is in production now, he said.

Intel last month completed the US$1.4 billion acquisition of Infineon's wireless division, which was announced in August. Intel has said in the future it will integrate the communication chips such as 3G and 4G radios acquired from Infineon in its Atom processors.

Intel also announced a dual-SIM product that lets users run two SIM cards in a device. That's handy for people who might want to have a personal phone number and account as well as a work number but use the same device.

Intel also announced an arrangement with Korea Telecom and Samsung whereby the companies will use Intel architecture chips in all of their combined LTE network deployments.

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Nancy Gohring and Agam Shah

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