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Intel System on Chip (SoC)

Unlike desktop devices, the processor, chipset, graphics, motherboard, and other components cannot be independently manufactured, configured, and then assembled in embedded systems due to constraints of volume and space; otherwise, they would be too large, consume too much power, have impractically complex designs, and have unstable layouts similar to desktops. Therefore, most current embedded systems adopt SoC designs. By integrating peripheral function modules of microprocessor/microcontroller, memory, bus, frequency generator, and A/D or D/A conversion on a single chip, SoC provides the benefits of small size, energy efficiency, high reliability, and simple peripheral circuit design. Intel has gradually embarked on SoC as the development direction for Intel Atom processors. A description of the recent designs follows.


Medfield, released in 2012, is Intel's first SoC processor for smartphones. The core of the Medfield platform is the SoC chip (code-named Penwell). In fact, the previous

Moorestown platform requires a two-chip solution to achieve the same functionality. As a true SoC, Medfield is different from the single-chip layout of Intel Atom processors but is equivalent to previous chipsets. As a result, it becomes a more compact, energy-efficient processor. The Medfield SoC processor adopts package on package (POP), and the entire chip area is about 12 × 12 mm. The internal architecture of Medfield SoC is shown in Figure 2-6.

Figure 2-6. Internal architecture of Penwell SoC

The first Medfield SoC, built for smartphones, has an Intel Atom processor Z2460. The plan is to use the latest Intel Atom processors in future Medfield SoCs. For example, the plan for the second Medfield SoC is to adopt the Intel Atom processor Z2610 and has applications for mainstream tablets. Medfield SoC uses a 32 nm processor; integrates a single-core Intel Atom processor, 512 KB L2 cache, PowerVR SGX540 GPU by Imagination Technologies, and dual-channel LPDDR2 memory controller; and supports 30 fps 1080p video decoding. The highest frequency of Intel Atom processors is limited to 1.6 GHz. The Z2460 may reduce the minimum frequency to 100 MHz, features 1.3 GHz standard operating frequency, and only operates in 1.6 GHz during acceleration mode. As the second Medfield SoC core, the Z2610 maintains operation at 1.6 GHz clock speed.

The Intel Atom processor Z2460 consumes 50 mW of power at 100 MHz clock speed (lowest frequency); 175 mW at 600 MHz clock speed; 500 mW at 1.3 GHz clock speed (standard frequency); and 750 mW at 1.6 GHz clock speed (highest frequency). Compared with desktop processors, the Z2460 has very low power consumption.

Today, the Android OS completely supports Medfield. Intel works with Google to develop software for compiling applications for ARM and Intel architectures.

Bay Trail

Bay Trail, the new Intel multi-core SoC built on the Silvermont architecture, is from Intel's powerful processor family for mobile and desktop devices. Bay Trail is manufactured on Intel's industry-leading tri-gate 22 nm process technology.

Bay Trail is a multi-core SoC that integrates the next-generation Intel processor core, graphics, memory, and I/O interfaces into one solution. It is also Intel's first SoC that is based on the 22 nm processor technology. This multi-core Intel Atom processor provides outstanding computing power and is more power efficient compared to its predecessors. In addition to the latest Intel architecture core technology, it provides extensive platform features such as graphics, connectivity, security, and sensors, which enable developers to create software with unlimited user experiences.

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