Dual-core and quad-core 64-bit devices coming in 2014

Mobile World Congress

We're here at Mobile World Congress with Intel where the chip maker has officially announced its new 64-bit processors suitable for Android devices. The two different chips – named Merrifield and Moorefield – will be landing in 2014. Merrifield will be here in the first half, Moorefield will follow in the second half.

Both are 64-bit, with the Merrifield being dual-core and the Moorefield a quad-core. Both support LTE, and both were shown off on stage at the press event in reference devices by Hermann Eul, VP of Mobile and Communications at Intel. Both come with a set of pretty bold, yet not completely unrealistic claims based on previous Intel efforts in mobile.

Energy efficiency and long battery life is one of the top priorities with the new 64-bit processors, while still maintaining a high level of performance. "Stellar graphics" are also promised as is support for "more advanced sensors" without being specific on what they might be.

In the Q&A session, when asked which area of the mobile market each chip is aimed at, the response was clear. Merrifield is capable of powering a high-end Android device, but is perhaps more mainstream. Moorefield "outperforms other CPU's" and is targeted at the top end devices.

Intel powered Android devices have been a bit of a mixed bag thus far, but its battery life claims at least don't go unfounded. On stage Intel pointed out on more than one occasion that it is a "64-bit company," but we'll leave final judgment on how good Merrifield and Moorefield actually are until we see them in devices.


Reader comments

Intel officially introduces 64-bit processors for Android devices


I wonder if more advanced sensors is a hint at Moto X.

Then again maybe I'm still dreaming that the next Moto X will be stacked with raw power to go with the software optimization.

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According to Motorola, their X8 Computing System was built specifically to be SoC-agnostic. Meaning, they can drop any SoC into it, and keep on trucking, leaving their system wide open. They use their own radios rather than an integrated one, so no issues there. Essentially, they have the opportunity to use whatever chip they feel is the best price/performance.

Also, recall that a couple of years ago, Intel and Motorola announced a partnership. Not much has come of that except the Razr i so far, but that may have been Motorola waiting for Intel to get their efficiency under control, as one of Motorola's biggest pushes has always been their battery life. A quad-core chip for a "top-end" device, coming in H2'14, right when you expect Motorola to be pushing out the next Moto X and Motomaker 2.0....color me intrigued :-)

Confusing right? Becuase the "field" suffix has been reserved for desktop dualcore CPUs. Or so the trend has been set.

Intel still confuses me with their damn naming schemes.

Guess it keeps it interesting to say the least.

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These monikers won't be in the branding - just code names.

And I'm assuming these will carry the Atom badging...??

PS: Intel totally missed the scope of the ARM revolution, but they've missed others and have worked their way out by huge capital expenditures over a series of catch up and pass iterations before. And so may do so again.

Also the fact that the PC class Broadwell chips have been delayed would indicate to me that they're likely pulling R&D and other engineering/production assets into mobile efforts.

ARM certainly won't go away in any event, not with the heft of the players, and while not quite analogous, in any case, not a repeat of "Intel (mostly) Smash AMD" scenario... ...and Intel will have to settle for a share rather than coming to dominance.

I am guessing available in H1 means available to OEMs. How long does it usually take then to get a device out featuring one of these I wonder?

I would say 6 months to a year. The OEM has to build their kernel and the software on top of a device, and they're not even going to start "looking" at the cost of doing that until the chip is sent to OEM's. That means that, more often than not, it's closer to the "year" side of that.

Tegra announced their K1 processor- after that the hype just died... Dying to read full specs of these "nex-gen" processors.. Power cells are getting better while processors are consuming less power - will we see phones that can last a full week under intenstive 4G use???

An improvement that drastic is, unfortunately, probably going to require a major advancement in the batteries themselves. These chips are already getting pretty efficient with just "standby" mode, but they will always require significantly more power doing "heavy" tasks. Until we find a way to pack batteries with more juice in the same amount of space (size) then I don't believe we're going to see *massive* improvements in how long devices can go without a charge.

I am confuse, weren't those same folks making fun at Apple A7 last year during it's introduction and its 64bit. It's clear to me that Apple caught everyone by surprise with the A7 last year. You can tell how everyone is rushing to bring out 64bit soc's out. In the meantime no 64bit os is available for them yet. Hopefully google will have one ready by the end of this year.

You misunderstand. It's not that people were surprised that Apple came out with a 64-bit SoC, they were surprised at *when* they did it. ARM unveiled their 64-bit reference chip early last year, so everyone had been working on their own version already, but these things take time. Everyone was surprised that Apple had rushed the process to get their version on the market in just 6 months. That's a *very* aggressive target for any chip designer.

It's not that everyone started building their own chips because Apple did it. The 64-bit mobile processors were already in the pipeline since last January, but these things generally take about a year to be ready.

Apple owns about 12% of Arm, and if you want to go further back apple owned almost 50% of Arm until they had to sell part of their stake in 1990 when the company almost went bankrupt. Arm and Apple goes way back and was spawn out of a failed apple newton project. I think Apple was ahead of everyone because they own part of the company and already knew the roadmap.

Plus didn't Apple buy that small chip company a few years back that designed chips based on ARM architecture? Wasn't that when they started using the "A" line of processors?

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Too many iPhone fans are tricked into believing that Apple invented *everything*. I actually had a discussion with one the other day that was trying to convince me that Apple invented the "smart phone" and that there was no such thing as smart phones before the iPhone. It's like, I want to just educate these people, but too often they refuse to accept the truth until it just looks sad. Of course, I've seen guys from the Android side go overboard, too. The fanboy wars need to stop, though. At this point, if I try to correct someone and they go into a crazed "that's a lie. Apple is god" rant, I just walk away.

As I was just explaining above, this is completely wrong. Everyone was already working on 64-bit mobile processors before the A7 was announced. Apple's A7 is, itself, based on the same ARM reference architecture that everyone else is basing their chips on.