Intel has had little luck putting its chips into smartphones and tablets, as the devices continue to rely predominantly on silicon designs based around Britain’s ARM Holdings technology. Its easy to see why: ARM-licensed chips built by the likes of Nvidia, Qualcomm, Samsung and Texas Instruments are famous for their efficiency in terms of CPU performance versus power consumption.

Nevertheless, the world’s largest chipmaker is hoping to turn the tables with the Medfield platform: a 32-nanometer Atom processor for tablets and smartphones. Google and Intel announced a partnership at the Intel Developers Forum 2011 in San Francisco that promises to put Medfield chips in Android devices beginning January 2012.

Intel unveiled a reference design today for Android smartphones using the Medfield architecture. According to Technology Review, prototype hardware is speedier than today’s flagship smartphones without taxing the battery heavily. Medfield-driven Ice Cream Sandwich smartphones and tablets, performance-wise, should be able to play Blu-ray-rated high-definition video, stream to the tube over a wireless network, and take up to 10 8-megapixel images in burst mode. Do not mistaken the above image for an iPhone 4S, because it is just a reference prototype design meant as a guidance for OEMs looking to incorporate Intel’s chips into their products.

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