Intel has officially launched its Atom Z670 processor targeted specifically at tablet devices, and disclosed some details of successor silicon coming to market over the next few years.
The Atom Z670 forms the core of Intel's Oak Trail platform, about which a great deal of information is already known.
About 35 tablet designs are in the pipeline, according to Intel, including Fujitsu's Stylistic Q550 and Motion Computing's CL900, both announced earlier this year but yet to be delivered, while others based on Android Honeycomb and Intel's own MeeGo platform are said to be coming.
Oak Trail is described by Intel as a new fork in its Atom roadmap, combining features of its Pine Trail netbook chips and the power-frugal Moorestown silicon designed for smartphones.
"We've taken the best of Pine Trail and the best of Moorestown to provide performance with the low power benefits of Moorestown but with the ability to run Windows 7, which Moorestown does not support," said Kevin O'Donovan, Intel's marketing lead for netbooks and tablets in EMEA.
The Atom Z670 is a 1.5GHz chip with a single core, but supports two simultaneous threads via HyperThreading. It has integrated Intel GMA 600 graphics, but does not have 64-bit extensions and is limited to a maximum 2GB of memory.
However, O'Donovan said that the Z670 runs at about 3W when compared with a typical 8W for older Atoms, enabling all-day battery life for tablet devices based on the processor.
Intel sees a "huge opportunity" for tablets, but still views them as secondary devices, a PC remaining the primary computing platform for most users.
The company also said that it does not expect tablets to replace netbooks, but regards them as complementary devices with different capabilities.
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