Report: Intel chips to fuel new Android convertibles

In the world of convertible tablets, much of the focus has been on devices running Windows 8 and its ARM-friendly RT counterpart. However, according to DigiTimes’ sources at notebook makers, the next wave of convertible machines may be based on Google’s Android operating system. And, somewhat surprisngly, those machines are expected to have Intel processors inside.

Lenovo is reportedly planning an Android-based Yoga convertible for next month, while HP, Toshiba, Acer, and Asus are readying designs for the third quarter. The timing suggests the Lenovo system will be based on current-generation Clover Trail Atom silicon, while the others could adopt the upcoming Bay Trail refresh.

Putting Android on an Atom-powered device might seem a little counter-intuitive, since compatibility with x86 Windows software is one of the processor’s advantages over its ARM-based rivals. However, Intel has been working on Android optimizations for its hardware since 2011. The chip maker is reportedly behind the push for Android convertibles, and it pegs the sweet spot for those devices at about $500. DigiTimes goes on to say those machines “need to feature detachable keyboard designs to allow transformation into a tablet.”

After playing around with a bunch of different convertible designs, I think the detachable approach first seen on Asus’ Transformer tablet is the best solution. Being able to remove the keyboard means you’re not burdened by any extra bulk in tablet mode. Whether Intel-based Android convertibles can be compelling alternatives to similar devices based on ARM processors remains to be seen, however. Bay Trail is probably better suited to that mission than existing Atom chips.

There’s also the larger question of whether Android makes sense for convertibles at all. The OS certainly has advantages over Windows, including a much smaller OS footprint, faster application load times, and a broader selection of software designed for tablets. Device makers don’t have to pay for expensive Windows licenses, either. While productivity-minded users are probably better off with Windows 8, folks shopping for systems to handle email, web surfing, and social networking may be better served by Android. The Google OS certainly has more appeal than Windows RT.

Comments closed
    • Ragnar Dan
    • 10 years ago

    Well, the microprocessor, anyway. 🙂

    • internetsandman
    • 10 years ago

    The fact that you think trolling is a worthwhile way to spend your time is a severe flaw in your logistical processes that I’m sure you’re blissfully ignorant towards

    • thebeastie
    • 10 years ago

    I am seriously thinking of buying my dad a next gen ARM based Windows RT tablet/laptop.
    Simply because I am sick to death of all the scumware his current X86 MS windows PC picks up.
    I have told him a million times not to click on the dodgey web ads that promise to increase your PC performance by %500.
    If I get an RT Tablet, he can still use it in proper desktop mode to do excel/word and email and I don’t have to worry about him being robbed blind by hackers.

    I find it funny that the reason why RT has got such a bad wrap (bad backward compatibility) is the exact reason why I desire it.

    • Mr. Eco
    • 10 years ago

    “Intel literally invented the CPU”?

    • Rand
    • 10 years ago

    Just give me Android dual booting with Windows and I’m happy. I would kill for that, I’d happily pay a premium.
    Sadly I doubt we’ll see it, neither Microsoft or Google would look kindly on views that their respective options aren’t ideal for everyone at all times.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 10 years ago

    So it didn’t occur to you that the two biggest manufacturers in the smartphone and tablet space by market share using their own custom ARM chips might help explain the list of companies?

    • PixelArmy
    • 10 years ago

    I am not saying they are or aren’t (or didn’t in the past), but your initial post jumps the gun, that the word “push” implies Intel being shady is 100% reality and these shady practices [b<]are the sole driver[/b<]. I just subscribe to Occam's razor: Intel's cell phone chips haven't been competitive until recently. [i<]And[/i<] ARM is fairly entrenched. Before we entertain your theory, please show that there are zero reasons to use Intel, and that will there be no reasons in the foreseeable future. Seeing as no one wants Windows RT devices, it might be logical to switch to all Intel to have the same hardware, and just swap the OS, Windows 8 or Android. Assumption being that Intel will run Android better than ARM will run Windows. [url=https://techreport.com/news/24686/report-intel-chips-to-fuel-new-android-convertibles?post=725730#725730<]Note you yourself say you doubt that Intel "will make any difference to how the person is able to use Android apps."[/url<] It does make a difference in Windows land though. (And no I don't give a shit about you and Neely's inside crap, frankly I think it just pollutes TR.)

    • chuckula
    • 10 years ago

    1. Who says the Intel tablet has to run Android? (It could, but it doesn’t have to).
    2. An unlocked x86 tablet has a *crapton* of potential software applications and uses that go way beyond the walls of what Apple is willing to let you do. Even an unlocked Android tablet goes above and beyond what you can do with an iPad.

    You seem to think that just because Android isn’t somehow a radically different OS when running on an Intel CPU, that nobody should ever buy an Intel tablet no matter how well it performs or that the price is competitive with ARM tablets that are likely inferior. I’ll use that logic the next time somebody says that ARM servers will be successful since I doubt the webserver behaves any different on an ARM chip vs. an x68 chip.

    • chuckula
    • 10 years ago

    None of what you said is at all relevant to the complaining about Intel having tablets on the market at the same price point, or lower, than Apple. Just because some company comes out with a product first doesn’t mean that all other companies lose the right to compete. Oh… and if you are naive enough to think that Apple was somehow first in the smartphone market, I have a bridge to sell you.

    Using your idiotic logic, we may as well say: Where were Apple and ARM when Intel literally invented the CPU? Oh wait, they didn’t even exist! Therefore everything Apple and ARM do are stupid since they are “late to the party.” Sorry, it doesn’t work like that. (I will say that you are a role model for me in my trolling campaign though. The difference is that I am fully aware of the intentional logical flaws in my trolls, while I’m somewhat scared to think you are incapable of seeing your own)

    • Metonymy
    • 10 years ago

    This is maybe off-topic, but is anyone else here old enough to remember how exciting the early 80’s were in terms of microcomputer chip architectures? There were a number of different competing chips that were 32-bit (internally anyway), and it seemed completely open as to which would do well. I’m drawing a blank now in terms of company names… though I remember longing for a Sage computer that had a Motorola 68000 in it.

    I remember taking a comp architecture class and having to (on paper) design a system to implement a [granted, small] instruction set. It was very crude, comparitively speaking, but it was fun.

    So what’s my point? I’m not especially anti-Intel and they are certainly good engineers, but it’s nice to see the ARM architecture develop if just for the variety.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 10 years ago

    It’s also finally running 64 bit dual-channel memory and 2+ GHz. There goes every artificial disadvantage Atom had been tied down with since 2008.

    With integrated wireless modems in 2014, Atom will be a very unique platform, rather than the red headed stepchild.

    • GeneS
    • 10 years ago

    HP had WebOS able to run as a window within Win7. If the same can be done with Android, that’d be powerful enough to actually breathe some new life into Windows.

    • cartman_hs
    • 10 years ago

    no harm in testing the market since the huge chunck of customers out there also really don’t exactly know what they want

    • sschaem
    • 10 years ago

    The ipad is based on the iphone, that used an ARM SoC.

    What did Intel offer Apple in 2006 (when the iphone HW design was settled) to make Apple change their mind over having to use ARM ?

    Intel can only blame itself for not realizing that mobile devices where going to be popular.
    You get less credit when you are years late to the party and claiming “me too me too!”

    • Beelzebubba9
    • 10 years ago

    Intel typically pays for a lot of the R&D and design work, along with marketing, for OEMs and ODMs to make devices based on their chips. The $300M they spent on marketing Ultrabooks in 2012 was the most recent public example of this, but they’ve been doing it forever.

    This only makes sense for both Intel and their partners I’m having a hard time seeing how this is ‘evil’ all of the sudden.

    • dpaus
    • 10 years ago

    Given the same price, how will a tablet using an Intel chip to run Android be more useful to the consumer than a tablet using an ARM chip to run Android? While I don’t doubt that the Intel chip has the potential to be slightly faster, I doubt that will make any difference to how the person is able to use Android apps.

    • dpaus
    • 10 years ago

    Bingo, my friend: they didn’t have a dominant position in the cellphone market, and thus were unable to use their leverage to [s<]compel[/s<] persuade the incumbent suppliers to use their chips (i.e., by saying "use our chips for your phones, or you may find yourself unable to get our other chips for your, your, um...."). But they hold enormous [s<]power[/s<] influence over Lenovo, HP, Toshiba, Acer, and Asus by virtue of their dependence on Intel for most of the rest of their product line. If you'd been following the abortive beer-and-wings bet that NeelyCam and I had going, you might remember my citing this type of Intel tactic as a powerful reason for the cellphone manufacturers to [i<][b<]not[/i<][/b<] become dependent on Intel for their chips.

    • PixelArmy
    • 10 years ago

    [i<]IF[/i<]... Just like they pushed everyone into making android phones with atom... oh wait...

    • chuckula
    • 10 years ago

    iPad 4 (neutered version) at $499: REVOLUTIONARY! ONLY ARM MAKES TECHNOLOGY LIKE THIS POSSIBLE!
    More open, capable, and useful tablet at $499 that uses an Intel chip: MASSIVELY OVERPRICED! INTEL IS A MONOPOLY!

    • dpaus
    • 10 years ago

    If they’re leveraging their dominant market position to do so (i.e., ‘allocating’ chip shipments based on the extent to which they toe the line – a practice I’ve been on the receiving end of from Intel), no, it’s not ‘evil’, it’s ‘illegal’.

    EDIT: OK, yeah, it’s ‘evil’ too.

    • strangerguy
    • 10 years ago

    PC OEMs can’t make decent enough PCs that people would spend a premium for, Intel screwing over PC OEMs with ultrabooks etc for the sake of maintaining their mucho margins and MS can’t make a OS worth *** and is also burning bridges with PC OEMs with Surface. What a winning combination right there.

    While the ARM ecosystem in a way now is a better AMD against Intel than AMD ever could.

    • PixelArmy
    • 10 years ago

    These things are not mutually exclusive. Just because Intel is pushing them does not mean there isn’t demand, need, value, etc. (Nor does it mean there is.)

    Intel pushing for companies to make devices with their chips OMG?!?!?, stop presses, that’s EVIL!!!

    • dpaus
    • 10 years ago

    [quote<]The chip maker (Intel) is reportedly behind the push for Android convertibles[/quote<] So, "Lenovo, HP, Toshiba, Acer, and Asus" are going to invest millions of dollars - quite possibly hundreds of millions of dollars - on R&D, manufacturing, marketing and sales, not because there's customer demand, not because they perceive a need, not because the concept has some compelling value proposition, but because Intel is pushing them??!!? I'll bet that if they don't bring out such a product to Intel's 'specs' (read 'artificial restrictions'), they mysteriously find their supply of Intel processors to be 'on allocation' very soon. And I'll also bet that's why they all brought out those UltraBooks [TM] that recently saved the PC market, too. This is ridiculous, and stunningly clear illustration of why this market needs AMD to become a stronger competetitor. But, if they need a catchy new '[TM]' name for these 'high-[i<][b<]per[/i<][/b<]formance con[i<][b<]vertibles[/i<][/b<], guess what my suggestion is?

    • MadManOriginal
    • 10 years ago

    A dual boot Android/Windows convertible tablet would be freaking awesome, and it wouldn’t even need laser beams on its head.

    • willmore
    • 10 years ago

    I’m really looking forward to the performance of this new generation of Atom processors. The IVB derived graphics could make a huge difference–it’ll have better driver support and should perform very well when compared to past graphics in Atom chips/chipsets.

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