Intel: Atom powered smartphones, netbooks to cost $199 to $299

Intel makes processors, not laptops, tablets, or phones. So the company doesn’t actually get to decide what price PC or phone makers will charge for its products — but it can certainly set guidelines.

And according to information obtained by Fudzilla, that’s exactly what the company is doing. Intel plans to release its first low-power processors for phones and tablets this year and the company’s latest netbook chips are already shipping.

So how much does Intel think companies should charge for devices using those chips?

  • $199 to $299 for smartphones
  • $199 to $299 for netbooks
  • $399 to $499 for tablets

Those prices would make certainly make Intel Atom-powered mobile devices competitive with phones and tablets with ARM-based chips. The Apple iPad, for instance, has a starting price of $499.

Intel’s recommended netbook pricing is interesting. When the first Intel Atom processors hit the market in 2008, PC makers were charging $400 or more for netbooks. I still have an Asus Eee PC 1000H that I paid nearly $600 for, since it was one of the first models with an Atom chip and a 10 inch display (up until then 7 and 8.9 inch screens were the norm).

We’ve come a long way since 2008, and many companies are already pricing their netbooks at $299 or below. It looks like Intel is fine with that… and the company will presumably price its chips low enough to allow partners to turn a profit even when selling mini-laptops for mini-prices.

  • Anon

    Intel should go die ! ARM has already won the mobile device market.

    • Anonymous

      No, ARM has just been the only mainstream option up till now.  While Intel has just started to get serious about competing in the mobile market.

      Besides, competition is better for the consumer!

      • Anon

         I have serious doubt that intel’s chips will ever be cheaper or using less power than ARM’s.
        Device maker can get decent ARM processor for a few dollars from a list of ARM licensee that actually produce the chip but intel low power processors cost hundreds.

        Competition ? Lol ! Intel doesn’t compete againt anyone in the desktop and laptop processor market.

        Real competition is between TI, Samsung, Qualcom… and concern ARM chips.

      • Anonymous

         Intel’s low power processors don’t cost hundreds, you’re confusing them with Intel’s high end desktop processors.  Though the low end chips still cost more than ARM chips but prices are starting to get within the competitive range.

        While Intel does compete with AMD in their main markets, VIA is not quite dead either, and once they get into the mobile market then Intel will be competing with all the other ARM companies as well.

        ARM may have the cost and power efficiency advantage but x86 has the performance and flexibility advantage.

        Mind we’re entering a new phase for the mobile market where features like being able to run a desktop OS like Windows 8 is starting to become a factor and also ARM is planning to expand into fields it hasn’t previously been considered for as well.

        So status quo is going out the window and if we want the best they can offer then competition is must and everything is fair game as long as it ends up giving consumers more options and better products.

      • Anon

         x86 advantage would be performance ? I would say raw power and ubiquity are the advantages of x86, also the fact that it’s backward compatible with the programs running on MS-DOS 1.0 means it has to carry the burden of over 30 years of adding useless instructions to the architecture. Some would even argue that the original design was already bad and cluttered to begin with.

      • Anonymous

        Yeah, so cluttered that even a single core 1.6GHz Medfield can still hold its own against dual core 1.5GHz ARM chips.  Despite the fact the Medfield is still based on the same ATOM architecture that hasn’t been significantly improved in years.

        Yes, ARM is simpler but Intel has more experience on providing performance and compensating for the architectural limits.

        While ARM was created to provide efficient and low power solution needed for custom and often niche products that focus more on power efficiency than performance.

        So ARM chips are thus extremely customizable, and this allows them to be optimized for specific uses to maximize power efficiency, and minimize costs, but until recently they never had to focus on providing higher range performance.

        All ARM chips are for example still 32bit, only recently have they even started using more advance memory management needed to provide better performance.  While 64bit architecture was only recently introduced and it’ll still be years before they even have sample devices.

        It took x86 over a decade to make the switch from 32bit to 64bit for example and ARM is way behind in this and other features that allow Intel to provide higher performance.

        While the trend towards running desktop OS on mobile devices is a problem for ARM because desktop OS and software require higher performance and greater range of support than ARM devices have traditionally been applied towards.

        ARM’s main advantage now is in providing lower powered multi-processor solutions. But the market also calls for higher performance and as processors become bigger and more complex in order to reach higher
        performance levels, the burden of x86 decoding becomes a smaller and
        smaller term in the overall equation.

        FAB production has also started to become a more important factor than processor design for power efficiency.  Since as they continue to shrink manufacturing size production that power leakage has increasingly become the dominant factor that has to be dealt with.

        Back with 180 nm, power leakage was minimal factor but by the time they hit 50nm it had grown to nearly 40%…

        Thing is ARM doesn’t focus on control over the FAB, their designs are about having to minimize assumptions about the underlying silicon technology.

        So it basically means Intel can and will compete with ARM.

      • Anonymous

        by intel low power processors that cost hundreds, do you mean their ULV processors? you have to understand that those processors run circles around ARM processors and are not used in smartphones. Atom are the ones competing with ARM, and they definitely do not cost hundreds.

        You’re wrong about competition is between ARM manufacturers only. Any manufacturer that is trying to get your business for your phone, tablet, etc, are considered competitors by other manufacturers doing the same thing.

      • Anonymous

        it sounds like you hate intel and cannot make an unbiased comment.

      • Anonymous

         The recent tablet/phone Atom that Intel demoed had watt to ghz on par with current ARM. Products based on those have still to hit market however, while ARM has already cooked up the A15 and working towards other designs. Thing to keep in mind here is that Intel seems to catch up using more advanced production methods (like their new 3D transistor gate design). Also, Chinese factories seems to be spitting out low cost A8 and A9 SoCs left and right. It is a bit like watching the PC clones vs the micro-comps all over again. As such, i give intel even odds in this.

  • IAmMe

    Hoping 7-8.9″ Windows netbooks come back. No tablets for me.

    • Anonymous

       Probably have a better chance of new types of products to fill that range.  Maybe a hybrid like the Asus Transformer that can serve both as a tablet and as a traditional mini-laptop.

      Though it’ll be 2013 at least before any company would make that move for that size range, and they may not necessarily be x86 only solutions.

  • Carlton

    Intel has never competed in the dirt-cheap processor market.  The cheapest x86 processors are likely to come from VIA, with AMD pricing between VIA and Intel.

    Intel has competed using its process prowess (cranking out massive volumes of product, ratcheting up CPU speeds) and financial might (using its co-op marketing funds to buy device mfr’s loyalty, until they get caught), and superior performance (at the cost of lowest power consumption and greatest power efficiency).

    Intel still has an ARM architecture license (at one time, Intel was the biggest maker of ARM processors) and it’s quite possible Intel will incorporate some of ARM’s technology in future Atoms.

    The above said, I wouldn’t put it past Intel to lowball its CPU pricing via said co-op funds to buy market share away from ARM.  Of course, Intel is up against virtually everyone else in the semiconductor business, and every one else are some very large companies.  Still, no one operates at Intel’s scale (Intel has some 10 fabs).

    Two markets will emerge, a low-end Android market, where Intel will likely be a player, albeit not a dominant one.  A higher end device market, to replace Windows x86 devices, will emerge over time.   ARM is not a player in the higher end market yet.

    The X-factor in all this is Microsoft, and its relative pricing of Windows 8 on ARM, Windows 8 on x86, and Windows 7 (Windows 7 will be around for a very long time to come, similar to how Win XP extended its like via netbooks).

  • http://fanlesstech.blogspot.com/ ■ FanlessTech ■

    Since the Atom brand is so poorly reviewed, those prices sound good to me.

    Time for some real low-cost computing (i.e. not tablets)

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