updated 10:55 am EDT, Wed April 6, 2011
Intel Atom Z600 tablets finally shipping in May
Intel said this weekend that the first tablets running its Atom Z600 (Oak Trail) platform should ship in May. The platform, introduced in May last year, had only vague plans for an early 2011 launch but has now been narrowed down to a launch one year after its public reveal. A spokeswoman wouldn't tell PCAdvisor which companies would go first.
The Z600 is the first Atom chip designed with tablets in mind and is power-efficient enough that Intel has estimated a battery life of as much as 10 hours, putting it roughly on par with an iPad. It also makes amends for Intel's historically very slow integrated video on Atoms by using PowerVR graphics that can handle 1080p.
Its impact on the tablet isn't known. While it could improve the competitiveness of Windows tablets and a handful of Android models, MSI has warned that it might not have much effect. ARM-based tablets like the iPad 2 and Xoom have so far dominated the market since their much more battery-efficient, smaller chips and better visual performance have been more appealing to early adopters.
Companies have tried making tablets using earlier Atom chips but have usually had half or less the battery life and have needed special accelerator chipsets just to play HD video. Intel's performance has been low enough that HP relegated the Slate 500 to the niche enterprise market after initially trying to promote it as an iPad killer.