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CES: Intel and Qualcomm vye for tablet glory

Intel launches processors ranging from Atoms for emerging markets to Cores for ultrabooks; Qualcomm CEO talks of 'born mobile'

By CAROLINE GABRIEL

Published: 8 January, 2013

READ MORE: Intel | Qualcomm | Processor | Tablet

Intel and Qualcomm vyed for attention at the Consumer Electronics Show's opening day in Las Vegas, with the former outlining its roadmap for low power smartphone, tablet and ultrabook chips, while the latter adopted the theme of 'born mobile' for CEO Paul Jacobs's keynote speech.

In a hail of announcements from Intel, the stand-out items focused on harnessing the 22nm process to lower power consumption across the range, especially for a new smartphone platform geared to emerging markets. Mike Bell, general manager of the mobile and communications group, and Kirk Skaugen, general manager of the PC client group, shared the honors in showing off the forthcoming products, indicating the move towards common approaches from desktop to pocket.


Other announcements centered on a 22nm quad-core system-on-chip for tablets, and support for a wider variety of form factors within the ultrabook category, as the range of convertible touchscreen/PC designs widens confusingly.

"The best of Intel is coming to a mobile device near you," said Skaugen. "We are set to deliver the biggest increase in battery efficiency in Intel's history with fourth generation Intel Core processors, while adding broad new human interfaces to computing devices through touch, voice, facial recognition, and gesture-based interactions. We're also significantly extending the performance and power savings in Atom processors as we accelerate our mobile offerings in an unprecedented fashion in 2013."

Targeted at entry level smartphones for emerging economies, Intel unveiled a low power Atom platform, formerly codenamed Lexington, together with a reference design, and said this had already been adopted by three partners - Intel's original handset OEM, Lava International of India; African operator Safaricom; and Acer. The platform features the Atom Z2420 processor with Hyper-Threading Technology, supporting 1.2GHz clock speed, 1080p hardware-accelerated codec, and the Intel XMM 6265 HSPA+ modem with dual-SIM capability (crucial for emerging markets).

Bell also detailed the upcoming Atom Z2580 processor platform (formerly known as Clover Trail+), targeted at high end and midrange smartphones. This includes a dual-core processor with Hyper-Threading Technology, and a dual-core graphics engine. It promises to deliver up to twice the performance of the current Atom Z2460 platform.

The next generation Atom SoC, codenamed Bay Trail, will harness 22nm and 3D transistor processes, and will be available before year end. This will be optimized for tablets and will double the performance of the current offering in this category, making it the most powerful Atom to date, nudging towards Core levels of horsepower while operating at low power and in SoC designs.

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