India-based handset vendor Lava International will launch the world's first Android smartphone with an Intel microprocessor on Monday. With a $421 street price in India, the new XOLO X900 is powered by Intel's Atom Z2460 chip featuring hyperthreading technology as well as support for 3g HSPA+ connectivity.
Though the XOLO X900 will initially ship with Android 2.3 aboard, Lava plans to upgrade handset buyers to Android 4.0 later this year. However, the new smartphone will doubtlessly be pricey for many customers in the world's second-most populous nation.
So far Lava is being careful to position XOLO as a highly differentiated player in the nation's fast-growing smartphone segment. "Independent benchmarks clearly point to the fact that when it comes to speed and performance, XOLO X900 is the gold standard," said co-founder and Director Vishal Sehgal.
For Intel the aim is to gain a toehold in the burgeoning Android smartphone market, which accounted for 50.9 percent of all unit shipments during the fourth quarter of last year, according to Gartner. Still, the firm's analysts expect global smartphone growth in 2012 "to slow to around 39 percent" year over year -- down from 47.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, said Annette Zimmermann, a principal research analyst at Gartner.
More Atom-Powered Devices Coming
Rival chips from Qualcomm, Nvidia and other vendors who base their processors on multi-core offerings from ARM have been able to dominate the smartphone chip race to date because of the ultra-low power consumption of their devices in comparison with Intel chips based on its venerable x86 architecture. The new Atom Z2460 chip being dropped into Lava's new smartphone is the first Intel processor to reduce the power consumption performance gap.
Other product designers have recently become receptive to running Intel inside their mobile device offerings. Lenovo, Motorola Mobility, Orange and ZTE all expect to launch smartphones and tablets powered by Intel's new mobile Atom chip going forward.
Intel is slated to begin sampling a new Atom Z2580 chip this year that doubles performance overall in comparison with the company's current Z2460 processor. Additionally, Intel expects to launch a new Z2000 Atom chip for deployment in lower-priced smartphone designs that only require a 1-GHz processor.
Chip Process Advancements
Intel's current mobile Atom chip lineup is based on 32-nanometer process technology, whereas Intel will be moving to next generation 14 nm process technology in 2014. So we asked IHS iSuppli Senior Principal Analyst Francis Sideco whether Intel's next-generation process technology would give the chipmaker an edge over its ARM-based chip rivals. (continued...)