Joel Hruska wrote an excellent article over at ExtremeTech on the memory technology that is expected to follow the relatively new LPDDR4 in the mobile market known as Wide I/O. According to Hruska, Wide I/O and Wide I/O 2 are memory technologies that deliver very high memory bandwidth at the "lowest possible power consumption."
Hruska said the first version of Wide I/O isn't expected to be widely adopted, but that Wide I/O 2 is expected to "reach the mass market." He added that it's unclear when Wide I/O 2 devices will actually hit the market.
However, thanks to this LinkedIn profile of an Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) employee, it appears the company's next-generation mobile chip -- known as Broxton -- will adopt the technology. This suggests Wide I/O 2 should be adopted by high-end mobile solutions (from Intel, and likely others) around early 2016.
What does this mean for Intel's high-end mobile offerings?
One problem facing Intel's high-end mobile (particularly smartphone) ambitions is that the company simply hasn't been able to get competitive products out on time. They are sometimes missing key features, or simply don't deliver enough performance in order to be competitive.
Still, even though Broxton was delayed from "mid-2015" into 2016, the process is probably going to get closer to the mark for high-end mobile devices than Intel's previous efforts have. How do we know this?
First, note that in the 2016 time frame Intel should have a part that uses the latest memory technologies. This is in stark contrast to Intel's offerings in mobile today, which are a generation behind. To illustrate, note that the Snapdragon 810 from Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), as well as Samsung's (NASDAQOTH:SSNLF) Exynos 7420, support the latest LPDDR4 standard. Intel's best mobile chips -- Cherry Trail and Moorefield -- only offer LPDDR3 support.
Furthermore, as Hruska noted, the significant increases in memory bandwidth brought by technologies such as Wide I/O 2 are particularly helpful to getting the most out of the integrated graphics on a mobile chip. Intel adopting this technology for Broxton may be clue that the graphics performance on that chip is high enough to compete with the chips from its major competitors.
That said, even if Broxton does offer "leadership performance," as Intel has told investors, the lack of an integrated modem might still put it at a disadvantage in high-end smartphones. However, if Intel can show leadership applications processor performance with Broxton, then that would at least be encouraging progress.
What this likely means for Snapdragon 820 and the next Exynos
Given that Samsung is a leading memory maker, and given that Qualcomm seems to work quite closely with Samsung, I wouldn't be surprised if the Snapdragon 820 and Samsung's next-generation Exynos processors support Wide I/O 2.
If this is true, then it could mean fairly widespread adoption of this technology -- at least in premium devices -- starting around early to mid-2016. It could also mark a significant industrywide jump in mobile computing and graphics performance.