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In-Stat: New Intel Atom falls short for mobile race

Posted: 18 Apr 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Atom? processor? x86 technology? integration?

Intel Corp. has launched the latest product in its family of Atom processorsthe Z670, also known as Oak Trailat the Intel Developer Forum in Beijing. Read more about the Intel's Oak Trail here.

Intel was quick to tout "over 35 innovative tablet and hybrid designs" by some major OEMs, particularly in Asia. The new processor continues on the Atom roadmap by offering further integration and all the bells and whistles from the x86 architecture processors, such as Intel's SpeedStep, Deeper Sleep, and High Definition Audio technology.

The new processor requires an I/O chipset, the SM35, but it does not offer alternative memory interfaces, such as package-on-package chip stacking. It is rated with a thermal design power of 3W, above the smartphone processors being used in other tablet designs. Oak Trail is also being produced on Intel 45nm process technology, not the company's state-of-the-art 32nm process technology.

"Even with the limitations, the Oak Trail processor continues to build on Intel's momentum in bringing the x86 architecture to lower power applications and is a great solution for netbooks, low-end PCs, and embedded applications that either use larger batteries than the consumer mobile devices or AC-powered devices that have cooling limitations," says Jim McGregor, chief technology strategist at In-Stat. "In addition, with the x86 instruction set, Oak Trail may be a good fit for tablets that require a full Windows environment, even though Intel does admit that the battery life may fall short of providing all-day support under certain usage models." Note that Intel also provides support for other operating systems including Android and MeeGo, the latter being the struggling platform jointly developed with Nokia.

Even with the launch of Oak Trail, Intel was quick to begin discussing the follow-on product Cedar Trail, which will debut in the second half of 2011. Cedar Trail will include support for Blu-ray 2.0, 1080p video, DisplayPort, Intel Wireless Display, Intel Wireless Music, PC Synch, and Fast Boot. Cedar Trail will also be manufactured on Intel's current 32nm process, but this will still be a generation behind Intel's latest 22nm process on which the company will begin volume manufacturing during the same period. As with past process transitions, Intel will begin manufacturing the high volume products, PC processors, on the new technology before transitioning other product lines to the new process. While this strategy makes sense from a manufacturing standpoint, it does not aid Intel's product strategy to break into the lucrative mobile device market.

While Oak Trail continues to strengthen Intel's Atom portfolio, it does not provide the technology leap the company needs to make a strong impact in mobile devices. Much of this is still being pinned to Intel's forthcoming Medfield processor generation, which has yet to be revealed.





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