Intel pushes for smartphone dominance with LTE-enabled 22nm Merrifield SoC

David Ludlow
10 Sep 2013
Intel Merrifield

New Intel Merrifield SoC is the company’s first to have built-in LTE support

Intel’s new CEO, Brian Krzanich, kicked off this year’s IDF with a bullish statement on how the company intends to progress.

“Our strategy is very simple,” said Krzanich. “Our plan is to lead in every segment of computing.”

Key to that lead is a focus on smartphones and tablets, an area that is currently dominated by ARM-based devices. With its new Merrifield System on a Chip (SoC), Intel hopes it can start making up the ground.

As well as moving to a 22nm architecture, which offers increased performance and reduced power consumption over existing products, Merrifield addresses one of Intel’s biggest failings: no LTE support.

Acknowledging that a lack of LTE was “one of the things holding us back”, Krzanich said of Merrifield, “We are shipping data LTE with voice 3G and, by the end of the year, data LTE and voice LTE. We are here.”

Of course, that’s not the end of Intel’s plans, with the company also looking to develop LTE Advanced (also called carrier aggregation) devices.

“We have to keep innovating, so let’s talk about LTE Advanced,” said Krzanich. “Consumers want data, they want faster data.”

LTE Advanced can use multiple LTE frequencies to increase the amount of data available - in the UK, EE is currently trialing running 1,800MHz and 2,600MHz together, doubling the theoretical throughput up to 300Mbit/s. The main thing holding the technology back is device support.

As for next year, Intel has its 14nm process ready, with the Airmont microarchitecture ready to hit new smartphones in 2014. The move to 14nm will again increase performance, while reducing power consumption, helping next year’s smartphones last longer on a charge.

All the company needs now is wider acceptance of its products, with existing Intel–based smartphones hard to get in the UK.

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