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back to article Intel to pay OEMs to build Atom-Android tablets?

Intel is said to be preparing an incentive plan that will subsidize OEMs that put Chipzilla's processors into tablets running Android 3.0, aka "Honeycomb". According to a report by DigiTimes on Thursday, the plan will reward "first-tier notebook vendors" by paying them $10 for each tablet they ship with an Intel CPU. Also …

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I Hate This Industry

So, intel is going to pay manufacturers to use Atom.

Before you know it we will have another Netbook fiasco where the only tablets you can buy are battery draining monstrosities running Windows because all the manufacturers want their piece of the action.

<sigh>

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Megaphone

ARM punters, I'd like a word...

So, look, you lot that are contemplating making ARM devices (tablets/netbooks etc), It looks like the battle is just beginning.

*PLEASE* do consider these suggestions:

1) Make all device 'unlocked' - ie we get to load whatever OS we want

2) This so, supply us the drivers we need. Specific example: source code for linux drivers with enough documentation there that someone else can figure out how to do it for any other arbitrary OS. And I mean, *all* the stuff we need drivers for. You want your system to win, right? Locking all that info away's not going to help,

I understand Android is probably the only realistic OS you can ship on a tablet it at the moment, but do try and help any attempt at getting other linux distros up and running on them.

3) Dare I say it, help even M$ get windows going on it.

Strike now, before intel gains too much momentum.

We have your back if you have ours (ie drivers, support).

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Go

This is better

If Intel doesn't try to tell the tablet vendors what to not invent this could work out well. They still have to deliver performance and battery life though.

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Anonymous Coward

Antitrust

Sure sounds like an antitrust lawsuit will be brewing.

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Not sure it is.

Hmm. I think this would count more as promotional discount.

If, however, were to say: You can only make tables with our chips in, then *that* would be anti-trust.

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Anti-competative though

I think using it's overall market position to make an offer that no other manufacturer could match might count as anti-competitive though. If Atom is not generally as good as ARM and they are making it much cheaper by cross subsidising that market, I'd say it was at least unfair competition, based on the size of Intel over and above any ARM fabricator. Mind you it would be interesting to know what $10 per chip does to the relative pricing, how much does ARM differ from Atom in terms of pricing.

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Yes

"If Intel were to say: You can only make tablets with our chips in, then *that* would be anti-trust."

...again.

.

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Anonymous Coward

Not sure it isn't

Not all all sure Intel can legally vary price according to end product. If Acer commits to buy 10 million chip sets over the next x months then terms can certainly be negotiated based on the volume. But how can Intel dictate that they are cheaper if they go into tablets than into netbooks, net connected fridges or Talkie Toasters? What Acer do with the materials they buy is Acer's business not Intel's.

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My take on this...

Ok, I admit, whilst I am not rich, I have enough disposable cash within the near future to buy a new netbook (or less likely tablet).

I will buy any decent Asus quality *ARM* netbook, provided it will boot any arbitrary linux distro easily (ie appropriate support available) even if it costs 10-20% more than an equivalent ATOM offering.

Re: Tablets I am not too sure but that Asus lappie/tablet combo looks interesting if it actually is tough enough,

Why am I declaring the will to pay a bit more?

After all, it's just the damned CPU essentially, linux is linux and I expect battery life, GPU etc issues to sort of even out eventually.

I don't know how many of you out there feel the same but honestly, I have had enough of seeing intel try to keep prolonging this horrible architecture. I understood the need to go to AMD64/EM64T, at the time - 64 bits, the bigger register file is nice, but to create and perpetuate low power x86's ... I don't know the wisdom of that at all, honestly.

Basically, I'd like to see x86 die out in this market segment.

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ARM is still cheaper

An ARM processor costs less than an Atom processor. Intel is willing to make less per processor while trying to close the gap between the price difference. You won't pay more for an ARM based compared to an Atom based system; the ARM should still be cheaper. Most likely you will see the Atom based system running windows.

I'd like to see x86 die out completely. It is time for something new and more modern.

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"Most likely you will see the Atom based system running windows."

This could be an issue.

My hope is, M$ sees the potential in arm devices (like they appear to have in mobile phones) and releases an appropriate OS for an ARM tablet/netbook device.

That may sound like blasphemy but diversity may be a good thing here.

My worry is that ATOM devices gain too much momentum from having M$ behind them and only them.

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Re: time for something new and more modern

If we're talking about the programmer-visible ISA, then you can probably manage *more* modern, since x86 is about 30 years old. But "new"? I doubt it. The last new ISA I can think of was Intel's ia64. ARM is ancient. Power is ancient.

If you are talking about things that aren't programmer-visible, then Intel's latest architecture is probably only a year or so old, just like any ARM chip you might name.

The fact is that ISA has not really mattered much for at least a decade. Instruction decode is just a few percent of die area and a limited register set just means you make the L1 cache smaller (and so faster). For all but the most compute-intensive functions, the bottleneck has been memory latency, not instruction decode. For compute-intensive functions, all current ISAs have spent the last decade adding SIMD and increasingly CISC-y instructions for stuff like encryption.

x86 has the merits of an existing tool-chain and backwards compatibility with any closed source software you might have. If Intel have been lame in the power department, it is only because there is more money to be made selling more powerful processors, and power consumption rises non-linearly with performance.

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Stop

Don't worry

this rebate will bring the Atom Z670's cost down to only $40 more than a Tegra 2, still more than double the cost. The Atom also lacks a lot of the integrated IO that can be built in to ARM chips (things like touch screen, flash and USB controllers) and needs a bigger battery for the same life. Intel are going to have to give them away for free before they get close to threatening ARM in tablets.

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Happy

@Steve Todd

With regard to the Atom Z670, Engadget is reporting that Intel's web site was showing an announcement that claimed that Asus' upcoming Eee Pad Slider would be using the Z670 rather than the Tegra 2 as previously announced. That claim has now been pulled from the Intel site - quite what is going on there is a bit of a mystery.

http://www.engadget.com/2011/04/17/asus-eee-pad-slider-making-the-jump-from-tegra-2-to-atom-z670/

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FAIL

Bribery/

Intel seems to be adopting Microsofts view of a "level playing field," i.e. making sure there isn't one, by bribing companies to use their tech. Not good, really.

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WTF?

What's new?

Isn't this just the same as "Intel Inside" stickers leading to chip discounts, co-op marketing funding etc? Intel are desperate to hold on to their x86 territory, by all means necessary.

But if the chip inside is holding you back, what should you do?

ARM Instead.

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Troll

Intel also wants to get into the phone market

With the MeeGo OS getting a kick in the guts by Microsoft trojan horse, Stephen Elop, Intel's phone plans took a pounding.

However, Microsoft will soon dump Windows Phone 7 and switch to the ARM port of Windows 8 for phones and tablets, so that will give Intel another opening into the phone and tablet markets.

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FAIL

would we be having this debate if....

would we be having this debate if Intel just dropped the price of their chipset by $10?

Intel are possibly looking to make OEMs believe they are getting a good deal, but if the price is still $20 or $30 more expensive than an ARM part, will OEMs care?

There is still the issue of whether or not companies will want to do business with just a single vendor any more - the proliferation of ARM vendors means Intel can no longer "lock-out" the competition by offering incentives, because there is too much competition already.

This isn't like the PC processor battles of the early 90's - this is an established market that Intel has had no involvement in, and people would be over-estimating Intel if they think they can just walk in and steal it with a bit of MDF incentive.

On the topic of Android being delayed because of speculative involvement from Intel, recent reports have actually aid that the release is delayed simply because it isn't ready:

http://www.engadget.com/2011/03/24/google-keeping-honeycomb-source-code-on-ice-says-its-not-ready/

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Boffin

Duh! Winning!

"The "sources from notebook players" who fueled Thursday's DigiTimes report spoke only of Honeycomb, the tablet-centric operating system that debuted in the Motorola Xoom. No mention was made of Intel's MeeGo operating system, which was dealt a blow when former MeeGoer Nokia decided that Windows Phone was going to be its smartphone OS of choice – although the Finns left the door open for MeeGo as a possible tablet OS."

You do realize that once the Hardware is built, its fairly simple to flash the system and put on a different OS? So once the hardware has Intel inside, putting MeeGo in wouldn't be too difficult.

MeeGo wasn't ready for prime time and the market is highly competitive.

Intel is definitely locking their market in to their platform.

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Thanks heavens for the Kogan Agora

£89 for a 7" tablet. So £200 should buy a very decent ARM netbook. It what the technology can do - we just have to leave the dinosaurs behind to wallow in their own corruption.

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Anonymous Coward

"bottleneck has been memory latency, not instruction decode."

Latency AND throughput.

And ARM ISA wins vs 86 ISA on throughput AND on latency because of ISA features present on ARM but not on x86.

ARM features such as code predication (conditional execution without the latency or space or time of a branch/branch-around construct). Features such as ARM's THUMB subset for high density code.

Denser faster code. Less memory for the same workload = lower power, better performance. Better battery life or smaller/lighter/cheaper battery. What's not to like?

At the overall *system* level, never mind the CPU core level, these and various other ARM and ARM-licensee features leave x86 way behind for the vast majority of applications, and ATOM still can't play in that game, unless there is a specific requirement for Windows compatibility.

And now, even Microsoft have realised that x86-dependence is holding them back (again).

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Unhappy

Intel have never got low-power computing

... once they even tried a knackered old 386 mask as a hand-held processor.

People are getting used to all-day usage of their fondle-toy (thumbs-up to Apple for that one). The dismal 4-6 hour life you will get from a big-screen Atom design will be just poor.

Yet, you won't be able to buy anything else, because Intel will make it too expensive to use non-intel kit.

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