Intel is pulling out all the stops to get a foothold in the mobile and embedded device markets currently dominated by British chip designer ARM. Both the “Oak Trail” Atom platform that Intel began shipping to OEMs a few days earlier and its 32nm successor, codenamed Cloverview, are capable of running Android.
Running Android, however, doesn’t guarantee market success and Intel will need to curry favor with tablet vendors if it hopes to take the attack to ARM. That is precisely what the Santa Clara-based chip maker is rumored to be doing with a new strategy dubbed PRC Plus. So what exactly is this plan all about?
You've heard that April showers bring May flowers, and that Mayflowers bring Pilgrims. Those are both true, but also blossoming in May are Oak Trail tablets, right around the time Computex rolls around. It's been a long time coming. Intel announced Oak Trail last year once it was clear that tablets would be more than a passing fad, however we've yet to see any slates built around Oak Trail.
Intel has been hard at work for the last nine months shaking out the bugs on its new Oak Trail platform, and the first working Atom branded silicon is expected to start rolling off the line early next month. Several tablets and netbooks running the 1.5GHz Atom Z670 are expected to launch before the end of March and we can’t wait to see if Atom finally has what it takes to properly drive Windows 7.
Intel is having a tough time convincing notebook vendors to adopt its Oak Trail platform for upcoming tablet PCs. As a result, the Santa Clara chip maker has begun pitching offers it hopes OEMs can't refuse, DigiTimes says.
Acer, Asus, and Hewlett-Packard have all showed little to no interest in Oak Trail as a tablet platform, though Intel hopes aggressive price cuts will at least get the latter two on board. As it stands, only Fujitsu, Toshiba, and Samsung have shown any real interest in Oak Trail, though not on a mass production scale.
Intel is offering its Oak Trail platform at a price of around $40, which is about the same cost as Nvidia's Tegra 2, DigiTimes says. Bigger discounts are available for those willing to place bulk orders.
Still, Oak Trail is a tough sell, even at discounted prices. The Tegra 2 platform is a stronger performer, and Intel will launch its new Cedar Trail-M platform for tablets and netbooks in September 2011.
At this year’s Intel Developer Forum, Korea’s OCOSMOS was seen flaunting a 5-inch UMPC. Based on Intel’s upcoming Oak Trail platform and running Windows 7, the dual-joystick OCOSMOS OCS1 piqued our curiosity due to its ability to run PC games like StarCraft and World of Warcraft.
According to new information posted on the company’s website, you will only have to wait until March, 2011 to lay your hands on one. It features a single-core 1.5 GHz or 1.9 GHz CPU, a 400MHz GPU capable of handling 720p decoding, 32GB solid-state storage, a front-facing 1.3MP webcam, a 5MP camera on the back, USB 2.0, HDMI, Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n) 3G, and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR. Sliding the 5-inch capacitive TFT upwards reveals a QWERTY keypad.
Its battery will last anywhere between 5 to 10 hours on a single charge. This is due to that fact that OCS1 will ship with the option of a 24 watt-hour battery or a 10-15 watt-hour battery.
This really isn't much of a surprise as the SoC is expected to hit the market in early 2011. The intial product will feature an Atom Z670 processor and SM35 chipset. The tablet-centric SoC will support MeeGo, Android and Windows 7. But as you'd expect, vendors opting for Windows will end up paying a lot more compared to those opting for MeeGo or Android. As per the report, the Oak Trail-MeeGo combo will cost $25.
A new agreement with the FTC settles antitrust complaints against Intel and paves the way for the world's largest chip maker to ship its Oak Trail Atom platform without the required PCI Express interface, eWeek reports.
The original complaint dates back to December 2009, in which the FTC alleged that Intel abused its position as a market leader to bully the competition from doing business with AMD, VIA, and Nvidia by offering special discounts and rebates. Intel was also accused of altering some technologies in order to hinder performance of AMD products. Intel eventually reached a settlement with the FTC, which included a provision that the chip maker had to implement the PCI Express interface in all chips for at least six years.
Since Intel began developing Oak Trail before the settlement was in place, the FTC is granting an exception to the PCI Express clause, at least until June 2013. After that, all future versions must support the spec.
Market research firm iSuppli noted that "expansion is unstoppable in the sizzling tablet market, led by Apple Inc.'s bestselling iPad," and that Intel's Oak Trail platform has what it takes to go the distance.
"Oak Trail will work on three operating system platforms -- Android from Google, Windows 7 from Microsoft, and MeeGo from Nokia -- potentially expanding the universe of tablet devices in which the Intel processor might be used," iSuppli said.
Intel's Oak Trail platform is a System-On-a-Chip (SOC) design being built specifically for tablets. Early reports suggest Oak Trail will consume perhaps as much as 50 percent less power than previous processors from the company, while still being able to muscle its way through Full HD video.
"Intel is smart," said Matt Wilkins, principal analyst for compute platforms at iSuppli. "The company knows perfectly well that the media tablet market is being defined right now."
At the very beginning of the netbook era, some predicted testing times for team Wintel as they viewed the new form factor as a great opportunity for rivals to lessen the gulf. But both Microsoft and Intel emerged unscathed from the much hyped battle. However, with their rivals drawing first blood in the battle for tablet supremacy, the powerful alliance now faces a sterner test.
While the diminutive Atom has been received quite well in the netbook market, Intel knows that a few changes are needed as far as tablets are concerned. To this end, it is readying its next-generation Oak Trail platform. According to Digitimes' sources within the PC industry, vendors are unenthusiastic about Intel Atom tablets and only plan to launch Atom- and Windows-based models in small volumes so as to appease the two giants.
The Oak Trail system-on-chip (SoC) is designed to handle Full HD video while consuming 50% less power than the Atom. Optimized for tablets, netbooks and other small form factors, the SoC will support a number of operating systems including Windows, MeeGo and Android.
It hasn’t been that long since Intel released their updated Pine Trail Atom chips, but already there are some indications they may be refreshing the Atom platform. The word is that Intel’s new core is called “Oak Trail”. These new chips would replace the ailing ultra low-power Atom Z series. These are the Z5xx chips we’ve seen in the likes of the Sony Vaio P and Asus Eee PC T91MT tablet.
Atom N450 and N470 are the most common versions of the Pine Trail chips, most often found in netbooks. The Atom N series chips are higher power and not in danger of being replaced. The Oak Trail chips are said to consume much less power, but still remain capable of running a Windows device. Still no firm details, but it’s probably still safe to buy products running the N series Atom chips.