Introducing 4th Generation Intel® Atom™ Processor, BayTrail, to Android* Developers

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Abstract


Intel has launched the 4th generation Intel Atom processor, code-named “BayTrail”. This latest Atom processor is a multi-core system-on-chip (SoC) that integrates the next generation Intel® processor core, graphics, memory, and I/O interfaces into one solution. It is also Intel’s first SoC which is based on the 22 nm processor technology.This multi-core Atom processor provides outstanding computing power and is more power efficient compared to its predecessors. Besides latest IA core technology, it also provides extensive platform features, such as graphics, connectivity, security, and sensors, which enable developers to create software with unlimited user experiences. This article focuses on BayTrail’s impact to Android, Intel’s enhancement to the Android architecture, and Intel’s solutions for Android developers. 
 
 

Table of Contents


  • BayTrail SoC CPU Benefits
  • BayTrail SoC Components Enhancements
  • BayTrail Improvement Over Previous Atom Processors
  • BayTrail Variants for Android – Z36XXX and Z37XXX
  • Intel Optimizations to the Android Software Stack
  • Intel Tools for Atom-Based Android Platforms
  • References

BayTrail SoC CPU Benefits


This section provides an overview of the BayTrail CPU capabilities. The new multi-core Intel® Atom™ SoC is powered by the Intel® Silvermont microarchitecture which delivers faster performance with low power requirements.

      Faster Performance
  • Quad core supports 4 cores/4 threads out of order processing and 2 MB of L2 Cache which makes the device run faster and more responsive by allowing multiple apps and services running at the same time.
  • Burst technology 2.0 allows the system to tap extra core when necessary which allows CPU-intensive application to run faster and smoother
  • Performance improved by using the 22-nm processor technology:
    • Maximizes current flow during ON state for better performance
    • Minimizes leaks during OFF state leading to more energy efficiency
  • 64-bit OS capable
      Efficient Power Management
  • Supports dynamic power sharing between the CPU and IP (e.g. graphics) allowing for higher peak frequencies
  • Total SoC energy budget is dynamically assigned according to the application needs
  • Supports fine-grained low power states which provides better power management and leads to longer battery life
  • Supports cache retention during deep sleep states leading to lower idle power and shorter wakeup times
  • Offers more than 10 hours of active battery life

BayTrail CPU Specs in a Nutshell

BayTrail SoC Components Enhancements


In addition to the processor core, Intel has made many improvements to components on the SoC - such as graphics, imaging, audio, display, storage, USB, and security. These components enable developers to create innovative software on IA-based Android devices. The following is the highlight of each component.

  • Display 
    • Supports high-resolution display (up to 2560x1600 @ 60 Hz)
    • Retinal display capable
    • Supports dual display
  • Intel® Wireless Display (WiDi)
    • Supports video up to 1080p/30 with 2 channel stereo
    • Content protection with HDCP2.1 (Widevine DRM)
    • Supports multi-task
    • Dual-screen apps are enabled
    • WFA Miracast certified
  • Graphics and Media Engine 
    • Based on Intel Gen7 HD graphic processor which provides amazing visuals
    • Supports graphics burst, Open GL ES 3.3, and hardware video codec acceleration of multiple media formats
    • Supports extensive video and display post-processing
    • Stunning graphics with sharp and smooth HD video playback and internet streaming with more than 8-10 hours of battery life
  • Image Signal Processor
    • Supports ISP 2.0
    • Supports up to two cameras with 8 MP
    • Supports various imaging technologies, such as burst mode, continuous capture, low light noise reduction, video stabilization, 3A, and zero shutter lag.
  • USB
    • Supports USB 3.0
  • Audio
    • Low power audio engine
    • Supports multiple audio formats
  • Storage
    • Supports one SDIO 3.0 controller
    • Supports one eMMC 4.51 controller
    • Supports one SDXC controller
  • Security
    • Supports secure boot
    • Intel® Trusted Execution Engine (Intel® TXE)

SoC Components Specs in a Nutshell

BayTrail Improvement to Previous Atom Processor


Intel announced its first Atom processor for Android phones in 2012 - Z24XX, code-named “Medfield”, it was a single-core processor based on Intel’s 32 nm processor technology. In the spring of 2013, Intel unveiled Medfield’s successor for phones and tablets, Z25XX series, code-named “CloverTrail+”, it was a dual cores processor based on Intel’s 32 nm processor technology. In the fall of 2013, Intel announced its latest Atom processor, Z3XXX BayTrail which is available in both dual and quad core and is based on Intel’s latest 22-nm processor technology. Many improvements have been made to BayTrail. The following table summarizes BayTrail’s improvement compared to its predecessor. 

BayTrail Enhancement from Previous Generation of SoC

BayTrail Variants for Android – Z36XXX and Z37XXX


The following table summarizes BayTrail variants for Android.

BayTrail SoC Variants

Intel Optimizations to the Android Software Stack


Android is Google’s open source Linux-based software stack developed for mobile phones and tablets. Google distributes the official code through the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) to the public. OEMs, who plan to release Android devices, can work with Google and modify the distribution to fit their platform needs. Android software stacks consists of:

  • Linux kernel – contains device drivers and memory, security, power management related software.
  • Middleware – contains native libraries required for the application development, for example media, SQLite, OpenGL, SSL, Graphics, and WebKit.
  • Android runtime – contains Java core libraries and Dalvik virtual machine for running Java applications.
  • Android framework – contains Java classes or APIs to create Android applications and services.
  • Applications – contains Android applications.

Android version has evolved from its first release - CupCake, to its recent release - JellyBean (4.2), and to its current release - KitKat (4.4). BayTrail supports both JellyBean and KitKat distributions. Intel has introduced many optimizations to the Android software stack for performance enhancement. Developers can create apps with snappy performance, smooth, and fluid user experiences. 

      Optimizations includes:
  • Improvements that are made to ensure Dalvik apps run well on Intel processors
  • Tools for NDK developers to compile native code (C/C++) for x86
  • Optimizations to new web technologies such as HTML5 and Javascript
  • Performance enhancement to Dalvik VM
  • Optimizations to core libraries and the kernel by contributing to AOSP
  • Device drivers that are validated and optimized for the x86 power and memory footprint

Intel’s Optimization to Android Software Stacks

Intel Tools for Atom-Based Android Platforms


Google provides a suite of tools for developers to build and debug software on Android platforms. Developers are required to install the Android SDK and integrate it with their choice of IDE to build the software. Emulator, debugger, code optimizer, performance optimizer, and test tools are also available from Google. 

Developer can start developing Android software with the initial tools described in the following list.

In addition to Google’s Android tools, Intel also provides tools specifically for helping developers speed up their development on Atom-based Android platforms.

Intel Tools Features Summary

References


  1. BayTrail Z36XXX and Z37XXX datasheet, http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/processors/atom/atom-z36xxx-z37xxx-datasheet-vol-1.html
  2. Intel® Atom™ Processor Z3000 Series for Android* Tablets Brief, http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/processors/atom/atom-z3000-android-tablets-brief.html?wapkw=android+atom+processor
  3. Intel IDF 2013 presentations:
    • Building Android* Systems with Intel® Architecture Based Platforms
    • Tablet Solutions in Business: Build on Intel® Technologies for Differentiation
    • Display Technologies for Intel® Graphics
    • Hands-on Lab: Develop, Optimize, Debug, and Tune Applications for Android*
    • Using the Second-Screen API and Intel® Wireless Display from Android* Applications
    • Accelerating Your Software Development for Android* on Intel® Platforms
    • Developing Native Applications on Android and Optimizing for Intel® Architecture
    • Technology Insight: Intel® Platform for Tablets, Code Name Bay Trail-T
    • Technology Insight: Intel Silvermont Microarchitecture
    • Tablets with Android* and Intel® Atom™ Processors

Other Related Articles and Resources 

Bay Trail: IDF 2013 Debut
Android* Intel® Architecture Emulator (Gingerbread*)
Android Multi-threads Programming for Intel Architecture
Intel® Software Development Emulator
Android* Application Development and Optimization on the Intel® Atom™ Platform
To learn more about Intel tools for the Android developer, visit Intel® Developer Zone for Android.