SAN JOSE, Calif. – Staking out a position in tablets, Intel Corp. will announce a next-generation Atom system-on-chip (SoC) and as many as a dozen tablets using it at an event in San Francisco Thursday (Sept. 27).
Intel will describe Clover Trail, a dual-core Atom chip geared for smartphones and tablets. Companies including Acer, Asustek, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Samsung and ZTE are expected to show a mix of tablets and ultrabooks that can be converted into tablets, all using the chip.
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Intel took some heat for not releasing any news about its mobile Atom processors at its annual Intel Developer Forum (IDF) earlier this month. However, the company did display four Windows 8 tablets including models from Acer, HP and Lenovo using its Atom chips there.
At IDF, Intel said Clover Trail will have twice the CPU and graphics performance of the single-core Atom chips in its current 1.6-GHz, 32-nm Medfield platform. The 32-nm Clover Trail will come in two versions—one hitting data rates of 1.8 GHz focused on Window 8 tablets and another hitting 2 GHz geared for Android smartphones. The two chips are expected to use different PowerVR processor cores.
The tablets are not likely to ship until Microsoft formally releases Win 8 in late October.
The next big turn of the crank for Atom comes in 2013, when Intel is expected to announce Bay Trail, the first mobile Atom SoC made in its 22-nm process with tri-gate transistors.
At IDF, Intel said six companies have announced smartphones using the current Medfield. It showed the phones using up to 2 Gbytes low power DDR2 memory hitting respectable scores on a variety of Java, Linpack and browser benchmarks, generally below the Apple iPhone 4S and above the Samsung Galaxy II.
This is interesting. If the claims made are true, particularly for the Z2760, this will be the first time Intel's matched any ARM SOC on power, even if they're only basically matching up against a Cortex A9.
Still, this is how Intel does it. They tweak a design into parity with some competitor, then shrink it, and boom! It's a process race, not so much a design race. They're good at winning process races, particularly given that Samsung's about the only competitor in mobile with their own process. And they're at 32nm right now. TSMC has 28nm, and such competition for it, two companies have already tried to spend a billion or two and buy all of their 28nm output.
At 32nm, this is a waste of design effort and the cost to promote a half-baked mobile computing devices. OEMs in their right mind should ask Intel for marketing fund for the development of any tablets with Clover Trail inside. In essence, Clover Trail is another bad products which does nothing for the OEMs!
I'm a big fan of the San Francisco Bay Trail ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Francisco_Bay_Trail ). However, it's less than 2/3 complete, so "Bay Trail" many not be best name for a product. Maybe Intel will change the name when it ships?