Intel has officially launched its Bay Trail processor family, set to power both Android and Windows tablet devices before the end of the year, offering twice the performance of the previous generation of tablet chips while preserving battery life, the firm said.
Officially named the Atom Z3000 series, the new 22nm system on a chip (SoC) boasts up to four CPU cores with clock speeds up to 2.4GHz. It also has the same Intel HD graphics as Intel's high-end Core chips, capable of supporting display resolutions up to 2560x1600.
Chris Walker, general manager for tablets in Intel's Mobile and Communications Group, said Intel has looked carefully at the specific requirements for tablets when developing the Bay Trail chips.
"Our technical team focused the design on the differentiators that make a great tablet, things like all-day battery life, but increasingly use of different sensors, support for very high quality screens and overall performance," he said.
The Atom Z3000 will be used in a wider range of form factors, covering both Windows and Android devices, according to Walker, who claimed that Intel is tracking "over 30 designs right now, with form factors covering 7in to 11in tablets and 2-in-1 (hybrid) designs" due to arrive in the fourth quarter of this year.
"What Atom delivers is the next level of fast and fluid and visual performance, delivering 2x the compute performance over last year's Clover Trail platform," he said.
The move means that Bay Trail will see the first x86 Android tablets come to market in the fourth quarter. The Windows devices are likely to appear after the release of Windows 8.1, which is set for 18 October.
However, as a SoC targeting tablets, the Atom Z3000 only supports four-core (Z3700 series) or dual-core (Z3600 series) configurations, and also only supports up to 4GB of 1067MHz LPDDR3 memory or 2GB of 1333MHz memory via its dual-memory channels.
The Atom Z3000 also integrates a different set of on-chip input/output (I/O), including USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, DisplayPort and HDMI video output, SD Card and embedded MMC (eMMC) controllers for storage, and general purpose I/O interfaces such as serial peripheral interface (SPI) and inter-integrated circuit (I²C) for connecting to other system devices.
With Intel Burst Technology 2.0, The Atom Z3000 chips gain more intelligent power management across the whole SoC, according to Intel. Not only does this allow some processor cores to run higher than the base frequency when required, so long as power, current and temperature limits allow, but the approach is now extended to include on-chip hardware such as the graphics and camera circuitry.
Walker also said that Intel intends to introduce more Atom processors specifically aimed at the corporate market.
"As we go forward with Bay Trail, we will introduce SKUs specific to the enterprise, where on top of baseline enabling of business-ready security we will extend that with 64-bit for the most commonality across Atom and Core, as IT managers want this to manage system images," he said.
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