Intel to target enterprise by including vPro in smartphones

Vice president of mobile also explains decision to use single-core chips and Android Gingerbread in debut smartphone.

Orange San Diego

Intel is working on porting its vPro technology to smartphones, as the firm looks to attract enterprises to its devices in the long term by offering built-in security and management features.

"We will bring enterprise features such as vPro from our core chipsets to our mobile platform over time. With our purchase of McAfee, we're also looking to integrate products such as Deep Defender into our offerings," Mike Bell, general manager of Intel's Mobile and Communications Group confirmed to IT Pro.

Bell declined to give a time frame on the inclusion of enterprise-friendly features, but did say they "will be added with each chip cycle".

With Intel's chip cycles typically between 12 to 18 months, the next smartphone chips are likely to debut in 2013.

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The firm is expected to announce the roadmap for SoC and multi-core chipsets later this year, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see mobile processors released alongside next generation Haswell architecture next year.

In the meantime, the first Intel powered Android smartphone, dubbed the Orange San Diego is powered by a 1.6GHz single core Atom Z2460 processor. This Z2460 chip, which is based on a 32nm process includes Intel's hyper threading technology and a built-in Graphics Media Accelerator, so it can render 3D and provide HD playback.

The lack of in-built enterprise features is unsurprising at this stage as Intel has focused on striking the balance between performance and all-day battery life.

Despite coming to market with a single-core chipset, Bell remains confident that the San Diego can provide high-end performance offered by dual-core rivals, even taking a swipe at competition.

"People throw in core numbers just because they have nothing else to say. We're pretty happy with the performance we have [with the single core]," he said during the roundtable.

"We get enough performance out of our single core that we don't actually need to turn on a second core. In some of the use cases we've seen, having a second core is actually a detriment because of the way the thread scheduling has been implemented.

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"There are cases where the multi-core will be faster, but we can do it without putting the core in [at the moment]," he added.

Bell also claimed the reason the San Diego will launch with the dated Android 2.3 Gingerbread, instead of Ice Cream Sandwich, is because Intel is working on heavily optimising the latest version of Android for its devices.

"Google released an update to the ICS kernel about a month and a half ago and we thought it would be dumb to go out with an ICS update that was already out of date. We're going to do an OTA update for users."

The time frame of the ICS update is yet to be confirmed but is expected in the third quarter. Going forward, Intel expects to have early access to future revisions of Android, as it looks to become a dominant player in the mobile market.

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"Part of the deal we made with Google was that we have [the same] first class citizen status as everyone else. You may see a future version of Android where we're the lead vehicle and everyone is rushing to catch up to us. It depends on who Google picks to work with from a handset perspective."

Android 5.0 Jelly Bean is tipped to show up at the end of 2012, with Asus claiming earlier this year that it will be the first manufacturer to ship devices with the operating system. Intel has yet to strike up a partnership with Asus in the mobile space, with the chip maker working with Lenovo, Motorola and Orange.

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It remains to be seen how quickly Intel will be able to release an Android 5.0 device.

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