Otellini: Tablets with new Intel chips next year

Intel has 35 tablet design wins for its Atom chips

Intel CEO Paul Otellini on Wednesday said the company will make a splash in the tablet market next year, with some prominent PC makers preparing tablets based on the company's Atom chips.

Intel has 35 design wins for its tablet chips, with companies including Dell, Toshiba, Lenovo, Fujitsu, Asus and Cisco preparing tablets with either the Windows or Android operating systems, Otellini said during Barclays Capital Global Technology Conference in San Francisco, which was webcast.

Some tablets based on Intel chips will be on display at next month's Consumer Electronics Show, Otellini said. There will also be corresponding announcements related to the chips at the show, he said.

Intel's chips go into 80 percent of the world's PCs, but the company is trying to make its presence felt in the emerging mobile market, which is dominated by Arm. Chips based on Arm architecture go into most of the world's smartphones and tablets, including Apple's iPad and Samsung's Galaxy Tab.

Otellini said that worldwide tablet shipments would be in the 30 million range next year, and would compete with netbooks for discretionary spending. Tablets are an additive to the PC market and are not having a negative effect on netbook or laptop shipments, Otellini said.

Intel is targeting the tablet market with two chips code-named Oak Trail and Moorestown, which include low-power Atom processors. The Oak Trail chip is based on the x86 architecture and will bring a full Windows environment and driver support to tablets so peripherals can be easily attached. A number of devices are automatically detected when plugged into laptops or desktops with the Windows 7 operating system.

Moorestown, which has already been announced, is targeted for use in highly portable tablets, Otellini said. The chip won't be compatible with Windows, but will run Linux-based operating systems such as Android and Meego, which are lightweight operating systems for mobile devices. The Android OS will also run on Oak Trail chips.

Intel wants to ensure it supports all viable operating systems, Otellini said. Analysts have said that the tablet market is still in its infancy, and chip makers are supporting multiple operating systems in order to boost chip sales.

Moorestown is also designed for smartphones, but no devices have shown up yet. Otellini said a lot of work is involved in developing a stack of telephony, software and services for smartphones, and that devices would become available in the second half of next year.

Meanwhile, Intel is preparing for the release of its next-generation PC chips code-named Sandy Bridge. The chips, which will start shipping in volume next month, have improved graphics features compared to predecessors, with the CPU and graphics processor built inside a single piece of silicon and sharing resources, Otellini said. The chip also has specialized accelerators and extensions to boost graphics and video performance.

The strong graphics capabilities in the new chip will threaten the low end of the discrete graphics processor market, Otellini said.

Intel will initially ship quad-core Sandy Bridge chips starting early next year, followed by dual- and single-core models later in the first quarter to round out the chip lineup.

The company will announce early in 2012 chips based on Sandy Bridge's successor code-named Ivybridge, Otellini said. He did not share further details about the chip.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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