Intel's inability to crack the mobile market has been a growing blemish on their record, an increasingly sore spot that's seen the processor giant sit out the biggest new product category since the laptop. Sure, there have been tablets with Intel inside, but they've been solidly second-rate battery suckers. So how will intel catch up? By throwing Moore's law out the window, and upgrading its Atom processor at unprecedented speeds.
That's the plan, anyway. Intel announced today that its Oak Trail processor will be in products from Lenovo, Fujitsu, and more as early as May, bringing with it 1080p video decode, HDMI, full Flash support, and - most importantly - better battery life.
Will you see the 30-day standby battery that's the hallmark of the iPad and other ARM-based tablets? No, not yet. But an Intel executive was very clear that they'll hit that benchmark within the next 12 months. And within the next three years? Intel's going to push Atom through three processing cycles, twice the rate of Moore's law.
The question is: will that be fast enough? Because catching up to where the competition is today a year from now still means you're a year behind. And while the new Atom guts are the first tablet processors that are Windows-ready, Windows won't be ready for tablets - not really, anyway - until late 2012.
What's more promising is the peek Intel gave at the next Atom generation: Cedar Trail. While it's a netbook chip at heart, its feature set includes goodies like WiDi (Intel's wireless display technology), wireless audio, instant-on and some clever-sounding PC syncing capabilities. And while your feelings about netbooks in general may make all that shrug-worthy, it's notable that a lot of these features will eventually end up across the Atom product line. Which means tablets. Which would let Intel - if battery life delivers as promised - an instant contender.
Instant, though, is relative; it's going to be a while before that type of convergence happens. During which time any number of ARM manufacturers will be working, innovating, moving forward. But the important thing for Intel right now isn't to be at the front of the pack; it's to be in the race at all.
New Intel® Atom™ Processor for Tablets Spurs Companion Computing Device Innovation
Company Outlines Plans to Accelerate Intel Manufacturing Lead with Intel® Atom™ Processor Family and Move Faster than Moore's Law
• Over 35 innovative "Oak Trail" design wins from customers including Evolve III*, Fujitsu Limited*, Lenovo*, Motion Computing*, Razer*, and Viliv* available starting in May and throughout 2011.
• "Cedar Trail," Intel's upcoming netbook and entry-level desktop platform, will deliver features including Intel® Wireless Music, Intel® Wireless Display, PC Synch and Fast Boot, as well as improvements in media, graphics and power consumption.
• Innovation beyond the PC: Embedded Intel Atom Z670 creates smaller, thinner, fanless devices for mobile clinical assistants, industrial tablets and portable point-of-sales devices.
• Intel is accelerating its Atom product line to move faster than Moore's law, bringing new products to market on three process technologies in the next 3 years.
• Atom platforms harness Intel's unique "operating system of choice" strategy for Google* Chrome* and Android*, MeeGo* and Windows*, delivering personalised experiences.
SANTA CLARA, Calif., April 11, 2011 – Intel Corporation today announced that the Intel® Atom™ platform, formerly codenamed "Oak Trail," is now available and will be in devices starting in May and throughout 2011. Over 35 innovative tablet and hybrid designs from companies including Evolve III*, Fujitsu Limited*, Lenovo*, Motion Computing*, Razer*, and Viliv* are based on "Oak Trail" and running a variety of operating systems.
In addition, at the Intel Developer Forum in Beijing, the company will give a sneak peak of its next-generation, 32nm Intel Atom platform, currently codenamed "Cedar Trail." This solution will help to enable a new wave of fanless, cool and quiet, sleek and innovative netbooks, entry-level desktops and all-in-one designs.
"The new Intel Atom ‘Oak Trail' platform, with ‘Cedar Trail' to follow, are examples of our continued commitment to bring amazing personal and mobile experiences to netbook and tablet devices, delivering architectural enhancements for longer battery life and greater performance," said Doug Davis, vice president and general manager of the Netbook and Tablet Group at Intel. "We are accelerating the Intel Atom product line to now move faster than Moore's law, bringing new products to market on three process technologies in the next 3 years." The new Intel Atom processor Z670, part of the "Oak Trail" platform, delivers improved video playback, fast Internet browsing and longer battery life, without sacrificing performance.
The rich media experience available with "Oak Trail" includes support for 1080p video decode, as well as HDMI. The platform also supports Adobe* Flash, enabling rich content and Flash-based gaming.
With these significant improvements in power-efficient performance, the Intel Atom processor Z670 allows applications to run on various operating systems, including Google* Android*, MeeGo* and Windows*. This unique flexibility delivers both new experiences and more choice when it comes to tablets and hybrid designs that combine the best features of the netbook and tablet together.
The platform also helps deliver smaller, thinner and more efficient devices by packing integrated graphics and the memory controller directly onto the processor die. The processor is 60 percent smaller than previous generations with a lower-power design for fanless devices as well as up to all-day battery life 1. Additional features include Intel® Enhanced Deeper Sleep2 that saves more power during periods of inactivity as well as optimised Intel SpeedStep® technology. An integrated HD decode engine enables smooth 1080p HD video playback at a fraction of the power consumption.
In addition, Intel Atom Z670 processors come with the Intel® SM35 Express Chipset, delivering a lead-free3, halogen-free4 design with high-speed USB 2.0 for greater performance and Intel® High-Definition Audio to enable premium home theatre sound. Also ideal for small form-factor and portable embedded designs, the platform provides an excellent solution for a range of tablets in retail, medical and industrial applications. Solutions such as mobile clinical assistants allow medical staff to directly input data into patients' electronic files and avoid paper charting. This can result in a reduction in errors, better workflow, higher productivity and reduced paper handling and overhead costs. In addition to the Intel Atom Z670, Intel is offering the Intel® AtomTM processor Z650 for embedded devices with 7-year lifecycle support on Windows and MeeGo operating systems.
Based on Intel's leading-edge 32nm process technology, the next-generation "Cedar Trail" platform will feature improvements in graphics capabilities including Blu-ray 2.0 support, a dedicated media engine for full 1080p playback and additional digital display options including HDMI output and DisplayPort. New features will include Intel® Wireless Music, Intel® Wireless Display, PC Synch and Fast Boot. In addition, the enhancements made in power consumption and TDP will enable fanless designs with longer battery life. This means great acoustics without the hum of a fan and improved ruggedness and aesthetics of the design. Intel is currently sampling "Cedar Trail" to all major OEMs and ODMs. Users can look forward to a new generation of innovative mobile and desktop designs based on the "Cedar Trail" platform in the second half of 2011.
For more information, video, photos and benchmarks visit www.intel.com/newsroom/atom.