After years of insignificant adoption among manufacturers, Intel is apparently throwing in the towel on smartphone chips. The company's ultra-low-power Atom line of processors has had a tough time competing with low-cost players like MediaTek and, obviously, the incumbent mobile SoC juggernaut, Qualcomm.
Specifically, Intel is cancelling the upcoming Broxton platform and the already-delayed SoFIA fully-integrated mobile chipset, both of which were slotted in the "Atom x3" family and designed specifically for smartphones and tablets. The tablet-focused Atom x5 and x7 currently based on the Cherry Trail platform will continue to ship, though it is unclear if that platform's successor - Willow Trail - will enter production or if it, too, has been axed (Intel did not comment on Willow Trail, as it was not expected to ship for some time).
Today, the CEO of Unity Technology David Helgason announced a collaboration with Intel to add x86 support to the company's wildly popular Unity 3D game engine. The news was presented during the keynote speech at the Unite 2014 game developers conference alongside announcements for upcoming support of Samsung's Smart TVs and Google's Android TV.
Helgason delivered the information pretty quickly, but it's not the kind of thing that requires a long introduction.
Both Unity 4 and 5 will be updated to include support for Intel Core and Intel Atom-based mobile processors. This will allow developers to build native variants of their games for ARM and x86 targets with very little effort.
Most smartphone manufacturers have chosen to ignore Intel's mobile offerings in favor of ARM chips, but Intel is hoping to change their minds with its latest microarchitecture. Today Intel unveiled Silvermont, which reportedly will result in new mobile chips with three times the performance of current-gen Intel Atom processors. Alternatively, Silvermont will enable Intel's next-gen Merrifield smartphone chips to achieve the same performance levels as Clover Trail+ with one-fifth of the power consumption.
Want more specifics? Other advertised features of Silvermont include:
A new out-of-order execution engine enables best-in-class, single-threaded performance.
A new multi-core and system fabric architecture scalable up to eight cores and enabling greater performance for higher bandwidth, lower latency and more efficient out-of-order support for a more balanced and responsive system.
Motorola has just revealed its first smartphone powered by an Intel mobile processor, the RAZR i, at an event in London this morning. Although the exterior of the new device shares a lot of similarities with the previously released RAZR M, such as a 4.3-inch display and Kevlar coating on the back, it couldn't be more different inside, packing an Intel CPU clocked at 2GHz.
Motorola claims that the processor is "40% more efficient" than the competition, comparing the RAZR i to the iPhone 4S, so it will be interesting to see how much usage can be squeezed out of the phone's 2,000mAh battery.
Speaking to Pocket-Lint at today's unveiling of the RAZR M and RAZR HD, Motorola has reportedly confirmed that the RAZR M will be announced in the UK with an Intel chip, ousting the Qualcomm S4 found in the US Verizon version. Pocket-lint says the device will also get a "name change," but that just may be referring to the dropping of the DROID branding.
What we've seen of Intel phones so far hasn't been too impressive, so let's hope Motorola has managed to tame the Medfield-based Atom processor into something you'd actually want inside your smartphone. There's no word on LTE support, either.