MIDs Putting The Internet In Your Pocket

Designed to deliver a PC-like Internet experience, mobile Internet devices (MIDs) help you stay connected round the clock, no matter where you are. We take a closer look at these pocketable performers!

As the reach of the Internet spreads, sites like Orkut, YouTube, Facebook and Internet services like Skype are becoming a part of our daily lives. From a routine of logging in once a day to check e-mail, accessing the Internet has now become an almost constant necessity. So people are now going online not just via computers but mobile devices too. In fact, the next phase of the Internet’s growth might well depend on the type of devices that are available to access the Internet, while on the move Microsoft MCTS Training.

The MID(dle) path
Even as mobile phone manufacturers work overtime to provide a better Web browsing experience to users, MIDs have started to make their presence felt in this space too.
A concept that has come from Intel, MIDs are expected to bridge the gap between mobile phones and laptops. As Anil Gupta, managing director, India operations, ARM, points out: “A MID is a mobile Web 2.0 device that has the high capability to handle the necessary applications, offers the features of a smartphone, and is able to communicate with the Internet wirelessly.” It has a larger form factor than a smartphone, but is smaller than an ultra mobile PC (UMPC). It is, in fact, an extension of the notebook platform to a new market segment.

What’s inside?
Processor technology is a key component that delivers the mobile Internet experience, says Vijay Krishnan, a director in Intel’s ultramobile group. Intel’s small, low-power family of processors named Atom is designed for these mobile devices. This 45 nm chip packs around 47 million transistors on a single chip and measures less than 26 square mm2 in area. The company also has the Intel Centrino Atom processor technology for MID platforms to help deliver a better Internet experience.

The Atom processor is Intel’s first ground up design for MIDs. It has a thermal design power specifications (from less than 1 W (watt) to 2.5 W for mobile devices), provides low idle and average power, allowing the device to stay powered on while conserving energy. “The company conceived this processor architecture four years ago. Atom has transistors about the same size and number as the Pentium 4, but it is a fraction of the size, consumes a fraction of the power in terms of thermals, and is the coolest processor Intel has ever built. The processor uses hyper-threading technology (which enhances multi-core functions on the single-core Atom) and a power optimised front side bus that enables users to have the same PC Internet experience (faster Web page downloads, quicker responses and multi-tasking) on these Lilliputian devices, say sources in Intel. This chip also features Intel’s Clear Video Technology allowing MID users to have a low power, full-frame and hardware accelerated video play back. This is also compatible with Web programming languages and applications–such as JavaScript and Flash–which makes Atom more compatible with all aspects of the Internet.

On the other hand, ARM, Intel’s competitor in this space, has its ARM11 MPCore multi-core processor. Built on ARM11 micro-architecture, this chip is designed to provide an unprecedented level of flexibility, performance, power efficiency and functionality for MIDs. “The unique scalability of the ARM11 MPCore processor provides device OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) with an optimum level of performance for their applications, while at the same time allowing each processor to go into standby, dormant or power-off energy management states, to help control the level of dynamic and static energy consumed by the processor,” says Gupta Microsoft MCITP Certification.

Compared to its predecessor, which was a single core processor, ARM MPCoreprocessor technology is multi-core, which allows significantly greater control over the trade-offs possible between performance and the energy consumed. When the application demands greater processing power, multiple cores will turn on simultaneously and while the demand on processing is less, it will go into a single-core mode, consuming little energy with an extended battery life. In fact, ARM and its partner, graphics chip manufacturer NVIDIA, have announced the Tegra mobile computer-on-a-chip based on this technology. This is an extremely small and power-efficient HD computer on a chip, designed for next-generation MIDs to provide users with a full Internet experience, HD (high definition) video and 3D touch interfaces.

The MIDS in the market today (see box) come with a formidable array of features, including high resolution displays and multiple connectivity options (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and the like), even while retaining a relatively small form factor that make it extremely easy to carry.

Innovations and challenges
There are advances on the operating system and software side of MIDs too. Launched by Intel, Moblin (http://moblin.org/), an open source venture, is a project focused on building a Linux-based platform for next generation mobile devices, and especially for MIDs. Expected to be released in 2010, Moblin helps to build visually rich, dynamic and connected applications that run on devices based on Intel’s Atom processor technology.