Intel Bets Big on Small with Google Mobile Partnership

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Intel is betting big on small, announcing a deal with Google to get future Android-based devices running on Intel chips, along with a plan (not involving Google) for much more efficient power management features for thin-and-light ultrabooks that’ll be hitting the market soon.

The company has been chasing after the mobile segment for a while now—see this article from May of last year—but a deal with Google could help finally kick things into high gear. Intel already provides Atom processors for Google TV and Chromebooks, but mobile chipsets for tablets and smartphones could prove to be much more lucrative for Intel.

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The big challenge will be getting power management right. Intel’s current chips are small and powerful but still don’t provide the same time between charges afforded by the ARM-based chipsets found in most current mobile devices. Optimizing Android devices for Intel hardware will help somewhat, but time will tell whether such devices perform better than ones using chips from competitors. Intel and Google promise that this deal will promote “choice” and “innovation”—two words used by both Intel CEO Paul Otellini and Google’s Andy Rubin in Intel’s press release announcing the partnership.

And speaking of power management, Intel also announced that its next-generation “Haswell” platform will make it to market in 2013. Developed with the upcoming crop of lightweight-yet-powerful ultrabooks in mind, the Haswell chips “are expected to reduce idle platform power by more than 20 times over current designs,” according to Intel’s press release.

Otellini thinks that by 2013, ultrabooks will be capable of achieving “more than 10 days of connected standby battery life.” That “connected standby” quip is important: Unlike regular standby, connected standby would put your computer in a power-sipping state, yet it’d still be connected, “keeping the e-mail, social media and digital content up-to-date,” says Intel.

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