Intel: Next-gen chips to use 30-percent less power, $100 tablets coming this year

The Intel Developer Forum kicks off in San Francisco today, and the company is outlining some of its plans and expectations for the future. Some of the highlights aren’t really surprises: Next-gen Atom chips, code-named “Bay Trail” will ship soon. 5th-gen Core chips, code-named “Broadwell” are coming next year. ANd 22nm chips for phones are on the way.

But Intel did pull out a few surprises. New CEO Brian Krzanich says we should expect Intel-powered tablets with prices under $100 by the 2013 holiday season. There’s a tiny new chip called “Quark” designed for the internet of things. And we got our first look at Lenovo’s Miix 8 Windows tablet.

Lenovo Miix 8 tablet at IDF 2013 (via UMPC Portal)

Lenovo Miix 8 tablet at IDF 2013 (via UMPC Portal)

Broadwell

Intel’s upcoming Broadwell chips will follow this year’s Haswell processors. They’re due out in the second half of 2014, and they’ll be the company’s first 14nm processors.

The move to 14nm comes with a reduction in power consumption, and Kzranich says these chips will use 30 percent less power than Haswell processors — which already represent a significant improvement over last year’s chips.

Improved efficiency means that Intel will be able to offer the same performance at lower power consumption, or better performance at the same wattage. For instance, Kzranich showed off an HP laptop with a 4.5W processor and no internal fans.

Cheaper tablets

We’ve seen plenty of tablets with ARM-based chips and extraordinarily low price tags in recent months. Intel is suggesting that it’s upcoming Atom chips will power tablets with prices below $100.

It’s likely that we’re talking about Android tablets at that price point rather than Windows models. And I wouldn’t expect spectacular displays or large batteries. But you can forgive a lot of omissions for the right price.

Quark

Intel’s new Quark processor family is designed for the “internet of things” which includes wearable computers and other devices meant to talk to one another. It’s a tiny, low-power chip meant for devices where low power consumption trumps high performance.

It’s one fifth the size of an Atom chip and uses one tenth the power. As AnandTech notes, these chips will likely compete with ARM Cortex-M and Cortex-R chips in the low power, embedded space.

Reference boards with Quark chips will start shipping in the 4th quarter of 2013.

  • Greg Huddleston

    What what what? $99.00 dollar tablets in USA are already a go. I bought one of these to experiment with “Nextbook” which is a rebranded eFun tablet, from what I understand. @ (http://www.walmart.com/ip/Nextbook-8-Tablet-with-8GB-Memory-and-Google-Mobile-Services/23554123) Now true, these are inadequate at the moment at the present hardware level but when these get 3188s, a bump in Ram and Battery they will be able to handle business class apps just fine. (I would think this could happen by springtime 2014?)

    • John Morris

      But these would have ‘intel inside.’ Guess that would be a new low pricepoint for them. If they ship Windows RT they might make em unloved and unwanted even at that price but it would be fun to watch the fireworks.

      • CyberGusa

        Let’s not confuse this any further…

        1) RT is only for ARM, so it won’t be offered for any Intel solution… even Quark is still a “Pentium ISA compatible” on the front end (Intel confirmed this with Anandtech).

        2) It’s the ATOM devices suggested to go down to about $100… We don’t know what Quark will go for yet but they’re mainly being pushed to industrial applications where they can be drop in replacements for ARM solutions for things like electronic signage and other embedded applications.

        3) Quark isn’t going to be pushed to general consumer devices right away. Intel needs to work with OEMs to develop them further and garner interest before that happens…

        4) The ATOM being referenced is the next gen Silvermont based ones. So keep in mind they’re first to market with full 64bit architecture and can run a wider range of software than is possible for ARM… Since everything that runs on ARM can also be run on x86 (Google supports x86 for Android and Linux distros are still mostly x86 optimized).

        So could very well be a step up from Rockchip and similar low end ARM SoCs…

      • Maventwo

        And the Foundry model for making ARM-based SoC (as Intel have tryed to discount in commersial video with Intel Fellow researcher Mark Bohr) will always make ARM-based SoC cheaper than Intel x86 SoC.

        Because ARM is not owning any Fabs as Intel do.
        So, ARM-based SoC will always be much cheaper than Intels x86 Soc.

        Because of the Foundry model in manufacturing ARM-based SoC it will always be many different types of foundries and not only one company which is making them.

      • businessguy

        argh huh? vertical integration increases cost?
        what a joke

      • CyberGusa

        As businessguy already pointed out what you’re describing actually increases costs…

        Having a 3rd party anything adds costs! Since each additional party adds separate needs for profit margins and reduced efficiency of doing business that doing everything in house would provide.

        Besides, all the non-Intel FABs are well over a year behind… many technical advancements that Intel comes out with for a FAB take 2-3 generations for the other FABs to catch up.

        FinFETs for example won’t be introduced until they hit 16nm/20nm Half nodes and 14nm FABs, while intel is already using Tri-Gate Transistors since 22nm and has perfected it enough to start applying it to lower cost products like the ATOM.

        The real reason why ARM is so cheap is because up till now they’ve managed to keep things very simple. ARM SoCs are extremely customizable and are low complexity products as up till now they never needed to provide much in the way of performance or single product flexibility.

        So designs could be kept simple, small and anything considered redundant or unneeded for a particular product could just be left out of the design.

        While Intel high end chips tend to be juggernaut, throws everything and the proverbial kitchen sink type solutions… This adds cost, size, and complexity but has the benefit of being flexible… a single chip could be used in a wide range of products rather than having a custom version made for each…

        The ARM design system on the other hand is part of why it’s such a fragmented market and also why most ARM products have rapid end of life product cycles.

        This all means Intel just really needs to come out with a more simple and basic product to be able to compete on costs… which is what the ATOM series is for… It’s far less complex, much smaller, and far cheaper to make than the Core series… But it still retains some flexibility but also takes a lot of cues from ARM designs for a more basic product that gets the job done at lower cost.

        The main impediment for it really competing with ARM on cost is just quantities… the more chips ordered means lower unit costs, but orders need to go into the millions to really lower costs.

        Even ARM SoCs can range from sub $10 each for the really mass produced products to over $30 each for the limited quantity orders.

        But if Intel gets enough design wins then they may reach those needed numbers… and Intel is now taking it a step further with the announcement of the Quark series, which are even more basic than the ATOM and will go into embedded designs… So make no mistake, Intel fully intends to compete with ARM in pretty much every aspect!

      • John Morris

        True enough but at the same time they are talking about selling a tablet at around the OEM price (unit 1) for Windows 8. So it would have to be a feature cut Windows.. and the name of that product is WIndows RT. SInce it doesn’t allow ANY native apps it wouldn’t matter which CPU arch it has.. even less so than even Android. Think about it.

      • CyberGusa

        There’s nothing to think about, RT is only for ARM and nothing else!

        Besides, they can run Linux and pretty much everything else out there and not just Windows… Really, the only ones really invested in Windows is MS…

        Intel long ago started hedging its bets, support for Meego and now Tizen are just the more common examples…