Intel may be busy launching a new dual-core Clover Trail+ processor for smartphones, but the company’s already looking ahead to next-generation Atom chips for smartphones and tablets.
The companys’s 32nm Clover Trail+ will eventually be replaced by 22nm “Merrifield” processors designed to offer better performance and longer battery life.
Meanwhile the company’s confirming that the upcoming Atom “Bay Trail” chips should start shipping later this year, which means you may be able to pick up a tablet with a 22nm Atom processor in time for the 2013 holiday season.
Bay Trail chips are expected to offer twice the performance of the Clover Trail processors powering Windows 8 tablets today, while offering lower power consumption (and heat generation). That means we should see tablets with longer battery life and thinner cases — Intel says you can build a Bay Trail tablet that’s just about 8mm (0.3 inches) thick.
Intel is partnering with device makers including Quanta, Pegraton, ECS, and Wistron to build Bay Trail tablets.
You may have noticed that all the news about Atom chips recently has concerned tablets and smartphones. While the Intel Atom chips of yesteryear were primarily used in low-cost netbook computers, Intel is positioning future versions of its low power processors as chips for mobile devices.
Many tablet makers are also offering keyboard docks which let you use their tablets as notebooks. But Eee PC-style $300 laptops, these are not.
Not all Atom chips are designed for mobile use though. Intel is also pushing its low power chips for use in servers. But unless you make a habit of buying enterprise hardware, you probably won’t ever get your hands on a device with one of those chips.