At mobile impasse, Intel tips Atom progress

April 12, 2011 // By Rick Merritt
At mobile impasse, Intel tips Atom progress
The Oak Trail version of Intel's Atom processor is shipping and finding its way into netbooks and tablets. Intel plans a follow version, a 32-nm dual-core Atom processor called Cedar Trail that integrates all system I/O and will ship before the end of the year.

Doug Davis, general manager of Intel's new netbook and tablet group, will deliver the news in a keynote at the Intel Developer Forum in Beijing this week (April 12-13). The speech marks Davis' first high profile appearance as head of the group formed late last year as part of Intel's vow to get into the tablet market.

The news comes at a time when Intel is at a difficult impasse in mobile. Some engineers say it's coming Medfield chip, a 32-nm integrated Atom aimed at smartphones, consumes too much power for handsets. Intel recently lost Nokia as a partner co-developing the MeeGo mobile Linux software for Medfield when the handset maker decided to focus on the Windows Mobile platform.

In the wake of the smartphone problems, Anand Chandraseker stepped down as general manager of Intel's ultramobility group driving its cellular strategy.

Separately, Intel has not been able to get design wins for Atom in any top tier tablets from Apple, Motorola, Research in Motion or Samsung. The x86 giant has dominated the market for netbooks, but market watchers say netbooks have hit a plateau and are being surpassed in volume sales by tablets.

The net result is Intel is without a strong position in any of the rapidly growing mobile markets. Davis, widely hailed for his work as general manager of Intel's embedded group, will put the best face possible on Intel's netbook and tablet situation at IDF Beijing.

The 45-nm Intel Atom Z670, aka Oak Trail, is a two chip set that consumes up to 4-W and costs about $75. It includes a 1.5 GHz dual-threaded single Atom processor with video, graphics memory and display controller blocks in a 386 mm2 die. A separate chip supports HDMI 1.3a, serial ATA and other system I/O.

Intel will show at IDF as many as 20 netbooks and tablets using the chip set, some of them ODM reference designs. As many as


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