Intel Readies New 'Clover Trail' Atom Processors For Tablet Blitz


Intel Thursday revealed new details regarding its upcoming Atom Z2760 processors, code-named "Clover Trail," which are set to usher in the first generation of Intel-powered tablets.

A dual-core chip specifically designed for Windows 8 tablets and convertible notebooks, the Atom Z2760 can reach processing speeds up to 1.8GHz, arm devices with up to 10 hours of HD video playback and support the latest high-speed 4G wireless networks.

According to Intel, the new Atom chips will yield some of the industry's most light-weight devices, with form factors as thin as 8.5 millimeters and as light as 1.5 pounds. Nearly 20 tablets and convertible PCs are in the pipeline, with launches expected to start as early as next month.

[Related: Intel Inside: 12 Hot Mobile Devices From IDF 2012]

Intel's new Atom Z2760 processor represents a broader effort on the chip maker's part to extend its reach into the lucrative, and ultra-competitive, mobile market.

"With Windows 8 we are taking another big step in our mobility play in tablets," said Chris Walker, director of business development at Intel. "As we know, the tablet market [is seeing] red-hot growth. If you look at growth rates, ... it's the fastest ramping mobile device -- faster than phones, faster than notebooks."

Walker said of the Atom-powered 20 devices in the pipeline, about half of them are pure tablets, while the other half are convertible PCs, able to be used in traditional notebook or tablet mode. Lenovo was one of the first OEMs out of the gate to introduce a device based on the chip, with the launch of its ThinkPad Tablet 2 last month.

Intel has also been making a play to expand its presence in the smartphone market. The chip maker partnered with Motorola earlier this month to launch the Razr i, one of a handful of Intel-powered phones on the market today and the first-ever to launch from Motorola.

Though Intel has asserted its dominance over the traditional PC market, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip maker faces an uphill battle when it comes to the tablet and smartphone markets. U.K.-based chip licensor ARM, whose low-power architectures are used by Intel rivals such as Qualcomm and Texas Instruments, currently accounts for a whopping 90 percent of the global smartphone market and has been encroaching more and more on the tablet space, as well.

According to Walker, Intel has an advantage over ARM in that its x86- and Windows-based tablets will be able to more easily integrate into the Windows-based ecosystems already in use by consumers and especially enterprise users.

"Intel architecture and Windows together provides a unique experience of being able to blend the tablet experience and the desktop UI experience," Walker told CRN. "We deliver what we know is competitive in terms of power, performance on the device level ... but with all the compatibility that people [can use] to bring their current ecosystems and their new ecosystems together."

Walker said OEMs included Acer, Dell, Samsung and HP will be among the first to go to market with new Atom-based tablets.

PUBLISHED SEPT. 27, 2012