Intel sees tablets as a strong route for its Atom processor, into the mobile device market, because of the need for high performance and the similarities to PC functionality. However, the first commercial tablets, such as iPad and Galaxy Tab, have run on ARM-based chips, and indeed, both of these processors come from Intel‘s …
CPU is irrelevant
There's really no need to run x86 unless you want to run some stupid Windows tablet. ARM processors are very capable and in standby the battery lasts for weeks.
As for Android running on it, it's even more fragmentation as the developer will now have to compile their application for ARM and x86.
Wait a minute
Doesn't the iPad have a chip designed by Apple itself based on ARM's core? Didn't think it was Samsung's...
They need to get to work porting Android 2 to 3 for x86 first, no-one is going to buy an Atom tablet running Android 1.6.
The new Oak Trail and Moorestown processors look interesting from a raw technology point of view. Low watts, great power management, good performance, x86 compatible. A guy could make a lot of neat stuff with that. But a processor is not a platform. Intel has shown some shortsightedness in product positioning on netbooks by encouraging OEMs to stay within a platform definition for display size, memory configuration, and so on. They're afraid of "cannibalization". This limits the scope of creativity for the designer and prevents the creation of innovative systems that excite people. The fear of cannibalization is actually a fear that the new product will be overwhelmingly successful and sweep the field - which for any other chipmaker would be the ideal outcome, not something to be feared.
That, and no major PC vendor will ship a system that can run Windows with anything but Windows. That means that non-Windows systems with these processors will be made in low quantities, and Windows systems made with these processors will sell in low quantities no matter how many are made. The market has clearly spoken about the desirability of Windows tablets - screamed it in fact. So unless Intel can change the entire market dynamic of Windows and OEMs, these processors are going nowhere. This time next year we'll have forgotten them and be talking about the awesome iPad2 and the leaks about the iPad3. There will of course be the usual number of indefatiguable fanboys for the Windows tablets product online - just like there are for WP7 and were for Vista - all of them posting from the same script, which is sort of creepy.
But the chips themselves? Yeah. Way cool tech. Way to go Intel! You guys sure know how to make chips. I sure hope you manage to figure out how to sell chips into mobile and get people excited about your products in that space. But I'm not counting on it.
Power Consumption - The big issue here
AFAIK, the Atom line of CPU's although meager by normal Intel Standards is still a whole lot more thirsty that the ARM devices used in the iPad etc.
Unless they can equal or more preferably beat the iPad's longevity then they are going to meet a lot of consumer resistance. Like it or not, (and hate Apple or not), the iPad for a V1 Large Tablet has set the bar pretty high. All the Android ones I've read reviews of are strugging to beat it. The Galaxy Tab is also more expensive than the iPad. Now who'd have thought it 6 months agoe eh?
Anyways back on topic.
The iPad had proved that you don't need Windows. A lerge % the millions of iPad users are probably not previous Apple Customers. This one device has changed the market. Android is getting there but I thonk we will have to wait until V3 for a realy tablet ready OS to rival IOS. Windows? The Bronze medal I think.
I'd say "not a chance, it's been failing for like 10 years"
but a modern Windows tablet could have some serious impact on the market.
Here's a device the same size as an iPad that's capable of running Windows XP or even Windows 7. Corporate IT guys will love it as it can be treated just as another computer on the network. Developers of Windows apps will love it as it requires bugger all recoding to work. Web developers will love it as it's just another computer- it's not yet another type of hardware that requires yet another version of the webpage like the Apple tablets.
Linux lovers will adore it (so long as it's cheap enough for reasonably mass adoption)- they'll be able to load Ubuntu on it to really show off with what Multitouch can do.
Lovers of the Cloud would love it as all that power and the billion-and-one applications already available just begs for always-available offboard storage.
Even users should love it- Windows7 has multitouch so all of the gestures that work on their smartphones and existing tablets will work. Plus all of their existing, familiar applications work. If you'll scale down the graphics it might even run WoW for them. And, using StreamMyGame or similar (clients for which already exist, remember), yes- it will run Crysis. If your gaming PC will.
This could be the first proper Mass-Market tablet. Something that my mum, my co-workers and my non-techie friends not only could use, but _would_ use.
You see, there is your problem right there
'Here's a device the same size as an iPad that's capable of running Windows XP or even Windows 7'
Your problem is that such a device is virtually impossible, Atom is too power hungry plus Intel and Microsoft are too afraid of damaging their existing monopolies to do anything real interesting.
Atom tablets are always going to be big and thirsty with spinning hard disks, heaps of RAM to accommodate Windoze and the albatross that is mandatory anti-virus always dragging it downwards.
If we see an Atom tablet with the same physical attributes as the ipad, with instant on, the same or better battery life and at the same or lower price point within the next 12 months then I will eat a bug.
It does seem odd the way that the netbook and tablet markets are so divided - we don't see netbooks with ARM, or tablets with x86. Imagine if the phone market was divided according to simply whether they had a physical keyboard or not...
"However, the first commercial tablets, such as iPad and Galaxy Tab"
These were not the first...
"simply whether they had a physical keyboard or not..."
- Because that is NOT the only difference between a tablet and a netbook!
The Next 12 Months Will Be Interesting
Will these tablets (no doubt to be bloated up with the presence of Windows complete with gigabytes of RAM, spinning hard disk and mandatory AV suite) gain any traction, or will they simply be 35 also-rans fighting it out for last place in a burgeoning new market?
* Small and light
* Long battery life
* Intuitive touch UI
* Instant on
I still can't imagine a Windows + Atom tablet checking any of those boxes.
Time will tell I suppose.
You hit that one on the head
I also agree that there would be really no Windows OS that would fit the bill. I tried the new Windows Mobile last week and was underwhelmed. I just can't see this phone-OS taking any game away from Apple and/or Android.
My money is still on Apple for products that hit all the points that you mention. The big reason is simply the fact that they have been doing it for so long. The addition of Android only puts pressure on Apple to become better and that will make Android better.
The consumer wins on all accounts. I could be wrong about Windows Mobile, but I think they are just too lazy and too late to become a serious competitor. RIM also is chasing it's tail despite a very good following.
Atom in flying cars
We've been hearing the Atom in cell phones RSN pitch for quite a while now. I expect one about the same time as I take delivery of my flying car.
ARM dominates because it is able to provide energy efficiency that Atom can only dream about.
Process improvement is a tide that raises all ships: yes, Atom will get better but so too will ARM.
maybe the article title needs rewording.
I can't see intel only selling 35 chips, there's no profit in that, or I ain't paying $mill for one netbook. Perhaps 35 is a bit pessimistic, no?
Would you like a Lotus Elise or an Austin 7
Austin 7 please, my picnic basket matches the leather, and its the only one I can find in the shops around here.
The last mile
One other thing that makes Windows essential are the stack of hardware drivers. However, if manufacturers can hook up printers, scanners, external drives, USB sticks etc to my smartphone, then I'm ready to drop Windows.
Tablets don't do anything.
The problem for Intel is that tablet users hardly do anything with them.
So it matters little if all printers are supported, or Flash works in its entirety.
Prettiness is now the number one wow factor.
People do a lot with them
Apparently people find themselves using their tablets for more things, and for more time than they thought they would - and spend more time with the tablet as time goes on, not less. When it comes to value for money in a personal device, that's about as good as it gets.