Intel pins hope on new Atom chips
Intel showed at IDF as many as 20 netbooks and tablets using the chipset, some of them ODM reference designs. As many as 35 Atom-based netbooks and tablets will be available in 2011, starting in May, Intel said.
None of the new designs will support Honeycomb, the new version of Android geared for tablets and seen as the mobile OS most likely to challenge Apple's iPad. "We are working with customers on Honeycomb devices that we expect will ship in the second half," said Larry Chao, a tablet marketing manager at Intel.
Likewise, none of the reference designs include a system from a top-tier OEM using Intel's MeeGo version of mobile Linux. However, Intel showed systems from at least two small OEMs using MeeGo and at least one system showing an ability to boot two or three different OS.
The IDF systems included tablets from Fujitsu, Lenovo and Toshiba using Windows, Android or other OS.
Intel hopes its new chips breathe new life into the netbook market. Netbook "growth has slowed somewhat, but part of that has been a lack of investment in innovation," said Chao.
Intel's next-generation chip for netbooks and tablets is Cedar Trail, shipping in the second half of the year. It will use 32nm technology to pack two dual-threaded Atom cores, graphics, memory and display controllers, and all system I/O into a single chip.
The new Intel netbook and tablet group has its own engineering teams. Over the next three years, Intel plans to deliver integrated versions of Atom each year using new process technology, Chao said.
Intel says the new Atom chips will enable slimmer netbook designs sporting larger 11- and 12inch displays and more powerful feature sets. In addition, Intel will soon release a new user interface for MeeGo as part of a version 1.2 of the OS.
- Rick Merritt