updated 12:35 am EST, Fri November 11, 2011
Intel hopes to challenge ARM, iPad with tablet CPU
Intel's tablet-oriented Clover Trail processor got more details through a claim late Thursday. Having originally intended its Medfield processor for both smartphones and tablets, Intel was now supposed by Digitimes contacts to be limiting Medfield to phones and reserving Clover Trail solely for the larger slates. The aim would be to directly challenge equivalent Intel ARM processors, including in peak design power.
Although treating the processor as a surprise, the Taiwan site was mostly elaborating on early details given by Intel's product media relations head Bill Kircos from June. The tip did suggest there would be no crossover between Medfield and Clover Trail.
The tip also recapped Intel's accelerated Atom roadmap while providing more detail. It was already known Intel wanted to have Atoms on a smaller manufacturing process every year, starting with the 32-nanometer Saltwell in late 2011 or early 2012 and moving on to 2013's 22nm Silvermont and 2014's 14nm Airmont. The leak, however, maintained that it hoped to get down to a 10W peak power on tablet-oriented chips within two years.
Intel's focus on a tablet design is known to be based primarily around remaining relevant with Windows 8, where tablets will theoretically play a much larger role. As the first version of the OS to support ARM, Windows 8 should be the first Microsoft OS to run on genuinely slim and long-lasting tablets. The semiconductor firm has also started optimizing for Android tablets and is hoping to become an alternative for companies that can't justify extra efforts to get ARM chips.
Although dominant in notebooks and still managing record quarters in a downbeat economy, Intel has largely lost out in the truly mobile space through its slowness in getting very low power chips and lack of foresight in anticipating larger mobile OS tablets like the iPad.