Intel’s phone chip marketers don’t get the whole Goldilocks thing because they launched the ‘just right’ version first. With today’s announcement, we have two more phone chips, the high end Atom Z2580 and the low end Atom Z2000.
Both of these new chips are similar, the Z2000 is the same physical part as the older Z2460 launched at CES, with a bunch of functionality fused off. The two biggest ones are the clock speed, now limited to 1GHz even, and Hyperthreading which is turned completely off. In keeping with the trend, the GPU is at a lower clock too, and the video engine is very likely slower too.
These caps put the Z2000 firmly in ‘value’ territory for the smartphone world, but there is still an upside, power. At 1GHz, and with the GPU capped at 320MHz, power use should go down dramatically. The loss of HT won’t hurt single threaded performance much, but it should save a few mW too. All in all, if Intel had claimed 2/3rds of the Z2460’s power use, we wouldn’t have been overly skeptical.
Intel didn’t release any specifics, but the rest of the uncore is likely slowed down quite a bit too. The video encode is limited to 720P, and the camera is capped at 8MP vs a theoretical 24MP when uncapped. Basically, this chip will be a solid competitor to the single core Snapdragons and A9s clustered around 1GHz. On the down side, the value smart phone arena is dominated by price, so it isn’t necessarily a clear win.
In the middle of the lineup, things changed a bit for the Z2460. The magic 32nm process elves seem to have worked a lot of overtime since the holiday break because they found 400MHz for the previously announced part. You can now order a Z2460 that runs up to 2.0GHz, but the most important number, TDP, was not given.
To top off the range, we come to the first new silicon of the bunch, the Atom Z2580. This is a dual core, dual GPU part that you might be forgiven for calling Clovertrail. The main difference between this and the tablet bound Clovertrail is likely packaging and fusing, the silicon is the same, but the two are not interchangeable.
The spec sheet officially says the Z2580 has a dual core 1.8GHz Atom with HT, so four threads, and a dual core SGX544 GPU at 533MHz. No word on power draw, but more than the Z2460 seems like a fair bet. All in all, this part probably won’t take any prisoners in the raw MIPS race, but keep an eye on TDPs, that performance isn’t free.
Moving on to modems, since the Z2000 and the Z2460 are essentially variants of the same SoC, it should come as no surprise that they both share the same modem. The XMM 6265 modem supports HSPDA+, Rel 7 Cat14/Cat6 specifically for 21Mbps up, 5.7Mbps down.
To suit its higher end role, the Z2580 comes with a higher end modem too, the XMM 7160. This ups the ante by adding LTE support for 100/50Mbps communication and adds HSPDA+ Rel 9 for 42/11.5Mbps on 3G frequencies. Overall, this should be pretty fast if your telco can keep up.
Other than that, the basics are the same, no really new features, and no painful subtractions. Intel is simply filling out the market offerings for price and performance in the usual ways. Look for the first Z2460 devices to ship this summer or so, with Z2000 bearing phones a little later in the year. If you want a Z2580 though, Intel is only saying first half of next year, so MWC 2013 sounds like a safe bet. It is going to be interesting to see how these parts all end up doing in the real world, on paper, they look about just right.S|A