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ARM Holdings plc Message Board

  • khitchdee khitchdee Sep 30, 2012 1:23 AM Flag

    Clover Trail: Intel losing at ARM's game

    If reports are to be believed, Clover Trail based systems are going to need huge batteries, raining on Microsoft's "Windows 8 for tablets as a better alternative" parade.

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    • by IDG Reporter - September 30th, 2012

      After months of heralding its Clover Trail processor for Windows 8 tablets, Intel on Thursday unveiled the chip that it believes is its ticket to success in the ARM-dominated market.

      Tablets with Clover Trail, aka the Atom Z2760 chip, will become available around the end of October when Microsoft ships Windows 8, Intel officials said. The chip will facilitate long battery life for Windows 8 tablets and full HD video.

      While Intel dominates the PC market, it faces a tough road in the mobile battle with ARM, whose processors ship in most smartphones and tablets including Apple’s iPad. Intel has high hopes for Windows 8, and has worked with Microsoft to take advantage of OS features to provide fast performance and long battery life in tablets.

      Microsoft will release Windows 8 for Intel-based tablets and Windows RT for ARM-based tablets. Intel has said Windows 8 devices will have the advantage of supporting existing Windows applications and drivers, and users will be able to install existing Windows 7 programs and attach peripherals like printers and cameras. That could be an issue with Windows RT tablets, which may prove more popular with users who don’t need that ability. But Windows RT devices may have advantages in price and battery life.

      Intel has a better chance to succeed in the tablet market with the touch-based Windows 8, said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research. Clover Trail’s predecessors were used in tablets running Windows 7, which was a desktop and not a mobile OS.

      Intel’s primary goal with Clover Trail is to reduce power consumption in its tablet chips so it can catch up with ARM, whose processors were originally designed for smartphones and are considered more power efficient.

      Clover Trail is faster and more power efficient than the previous Atom tablet chip, code-named Oak Trail, which appeared in just a handful of Windows 7 tablets starting in 2011. Clover Trail is made using an advanced, 32-nanometer manufacturing process, which made the chip smaller in size while reducing power leakage.

      “With each generation the product becomes a better fit,” McCarron said. “They are doing everything they can.”

      Device makers have already shown off upcoming tablets with the Clover Trail chip. Lenovoannounced the ThinkPad Tablet 2, while Hewlett-Packard announced the Envy X2, a PC with a detachable keyboard that turns into a tablet. Asus and Samsung have also announced Windows 8 tablets with Clover Trail. A prominent name missing is Microsoft, which has announced a Surface tablet model based on Intel’s faster but more power hungry Core processors and also a model with Windows RT.

      Device makers have indicated the starting prices of Clover Trail could be around US$500 or higher, which is more than the iPad.

      The Atom Z2760 is a dual-core processor that runs at 1.8GHz and has 1MB of L2 cache. Depending on the configuration, tablets with the Z2760 can include NFC and LTE capabilities, Intel said. Some of the image processing features were drawn from the Atom chip for smartphones code-named Medfield, which is now in handsets from companies including Lenovo, Motorola, Orange, Megafon, ZTE and Lava International.

      Intel is open to making Clover Trail variants for device makers, said Steve Smith [CQ], director of tablets at Intel. The initial Clover Trail chips will be tuned to Windows 8, though the company wants to tune the Linux OS to take advantage of power-saving and graphics features on the chip. The company also offers Medfield for tablets, with those devices supporting Google’s Android.

      Clover Trail will be succeeded next year by a tablet chip made using a 22-nanometer process, and by a 14-nanometer tablet chip in 2014.

      • 1 Reply to lackeygarrett
      • Dylan McGrath

        10/1/2012 1:11 PM EDT

        SAN FRANCISCO—Ultrabook sales are falling short of expectations amid high pricing and lack of effective marketing, according to market research firm IHS iSuppli, which cut its forecast for 2012 sales of the ultra-thin, low-power notebook PCs.

        IHS (El Segundo, Calif.) estimates that 10.3 million Ultrabooks will ship this year, down from a previous forecast of 22 million. More than half of 2012 shipments are expected to occur in the fourth quarter, IHS said.

        Ultrabooks—high-end, low-power notebook PCs—have failed to achieve widespread popularity largely because of their price, which often hovers around $1,000. To achieve the speed and performance gains specified, Ultrabooks employ solid state drives, which remain far more costly than traditional hard drives.

        The reduced forecast for Ultrabook sales is a blow to Intel Corp., which conceived of the Ultrabook concept and has pumped millions into marketing the PCs. In April, Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini predicted that Ultrabooks would soon hit "mainstream" price points as low as $699. But even that price point may be too high for widespread adoption amid a flood of other promising mobile computing devices like media tablets.

        Craig Stice, senior principal analyst for compute platforms at IHS, said in statement that the PC industry has failed to create the kind of buzz and excitement needed to propel ultrabooks into the mainstream.

        "There once was a time when everyone knew the 'Dude you're getting a Dell' slogan. Nowadays no one can remember a tag line for a new PC product, including for any single ultrabook," Stice said.

        IHS also reduced its forecast for 2013 Ultrabook shipments. The firm now expects shipments to rise to 44 million next year—more than quadruple the 2012 forecast, but down from an earlier forecast of 61 million.

        Not too late

        But IHS said the slow start by Ultrabooks can be overcome. The firm projects shipments to continue to grow for the foreseeable future, exceeding 95 million units by 2016. This will drive long-term growth for devices used in ultrabooks, including motion sensors, IHS said.

        IHS said more Ultrabooks need to get below the $600 price range in order to hit the volume level needed to enter the mainstream. If Ultrabooks using the new Windows 8 operating system come close to the $600 to $700 range next year, while adding in an attractive new consumer feature such as touchscreen, chances for strong sales in 2013 are good. But if Ultrabooks stay at the $1,000 level, their sales will continue to struggle in 2013 amid competition from lower-priced options, such as tablets and smartphones, IHS said.

        "With the economy languishing, Ultrabook sellers may have trouble finding buyers at the current pricing, especially with fierce competition from new mobile computing gadgets such as the iPhone 5, Kindle Fire HD and forthcoming Microsoft Surface," Stice said

        Another factor cited by IHS for its Ultrabook forecast cut is the re-categorizing of many notebooks amid Intel's increasingly stringent set of definitions for Ultrabooks. Many notebooks once called ultrabooks now are being now classified as "ultrathins," the firm said.

        Intel isn't giving up on Ultrabooks in 2012. But IHS noted that the chip giant is turning its attention to next year, saying at the recent Intel Developer Forum (IDF) that it believes everything will come together with the mid-2013 introduction of the company's new microprocessor, dubbed Haswell. Intel described 2013 as a once-in-a-decade opportunity for companies to reinvent the PC, with its new Haswell microprocessor catalyzing the ultrabook revolution.

        Haswell, Intel's fourth-generation core microprocessor family, is expected to offer better performance with lower power consumption. Haswell will serve as the main core microprocessor for ultrabooks, IHS said. The microprocessor will provide Intel Identity Protection Technology to improve security and will also support multiple displays and high-definition 4K monitors with DisplayPort 1.2.

        Beyond the ultrathin and ultralight form factor, Intel at IDF focused on new consumer-friendly features to enhance the attraction of ultrabooks, IHS said. The focus at several IDF briefings centered on touchscreen technology in Ultrabooks, in conjunction with the Windows 8 launch in October, IHS said. Intel claims 40 Ultrabook designs with touchscreens are in progress, the firm said.

        Other prominent new features being incorporated into the next-generation ultrabooks are voice recognition; security features; multiple sensors including GPS, accelerometers and gyroscopes; and hand-gesture recognition, an attractive option for the gaming market, according to IHS.

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