INTEL SHOWED OFF the first tablet device running its Medfield 32nm processor for smartphones and tablets, and had some words of warning for the mobile chip designer ARM, as Computex 2011 kicked off in earnest on Tuesday.
Medfield is Intel's long overdue attempt to crack a market hitherto dominated by chips built using the designs of UK-based ARM, and as such aims to provide that holy grail of high performance coupled with low power consumption.
The platform is also set to enable sub-9mm designs which weigh in at an anorexic 1.5 pounds and under, when they finally make it to market early next year.
During his opening keynote, Intel's new president of China, Sean Moloney, briefly showed off an Android 3.0-based tablet and a smartphone powered by Medfield.
"Our customers will use these [Medfield designs] for their initial Medfield products," he said.
"Basically we laid out the blueprint to design the phone and tablet optimised for Medfield, initially on Android and later for Meego. Customers are evaluating the designs now."
Moloney also briefly pointed to a stack of some 10 tablets lurking at the back of the stage, all of which supposedly run Oak Trail and are available now, although we'll have to wait until the firm's umpteenth Computex press briefing on Wednesday for more details on these.
Mooley Eden, the gregarious general manager of Chipzilla's PC Client group, admitted at a press conference following the keynote that the chip behemoth had been slow to the tablet game, allowing ARM to make piles of cash in the meantime.
"We are late. Many tablets don't have Intel visibility, but we're putting a lot of effort in there," he said.
Eden got ever so slightly defensive when asked if the firm had invented the ultrabook category for ultra-light notebooks because it had lost the battle for the tablet and smartphone markets and warned ARM it would have a fight on its hands in this and all segments.
ARM beat Intel to the game again by arranging its press conference early on Monday morning, before the paint was even dry on the Computex stands, and revealed an ambitious plan of taking half of the mobile PC market by 2015.
Whether Intel can grab the other half will come down in a large part to whether its claims to have finally cracked the x86 low power/high performance problem are more than mere empty marketing rhetoric. µ