Chinese chip maker Allwinner sells more ARM-based chips for Android tablets than just about anyone, but the company is starting to look beyond the Android space.

At the HKTDC show in Hong Kong, Allwinner is showing off products based on its A31 quad-core and upcoming A80 octa-core processors — both of which the company says will be able to handle Windows RT, among other operating systems.

a31 windows rt

The company is still working with Microsoft, but says we could see Windows RT tablets with Allwinner chips by the end of the year.

Windows RT isn’t as exciting these days as it was when Microsoft first announced it was bringing Windows to ARM chips a few years ago. Intel’s done a great job of developing low-power, moderate performance Bay Trail processors which allow device makers to builds inexpensive tablets that run the full version of Windows 8.1.

Allwinner has risen to prominence in the Chinese tablet due to its very cheap processors… but with Intel promising that $99 tablets are on the way, and Chinese device maker Emdoor promising even cheaper Windows tablets, it’s not entirely clear if there’s much demand for cheap ARM-based Windows RT devices.

Of course, Allwinner’s not putting all its eggs in one basket. The company is continuing to show demo systems running Android software, and an Allwinner representative tells ARMDevices the team is also working on support for Chrome OS, Firefox OS, and Ubuntu.

ARMDevices also discovered that two of the first companies to request Allwinner A80 Optimus Board development systems are the makers of PCDuino and Cubieboard, which means future versions of those open source computer systems could be powered by Allwinner’s CPU with 4 ARM Cortex-A15 cores, 4 ARM Cortex-A7 cores, and PowerVR G6230 graphics.

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11 replies on “Allwinner chips to support Windows RT, Ubuntu, Firefox, Chrome OS (and Android)”

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  2. With Intel turning up the heat, tough times could be ahead for
    ARM CPU makers.

    ARM still has a power advantage and had better exploit it,
    perhaps in solar or crank-powered devices that can deal
    well with the environments of poor countries. The first
    billion adopters of computers were in countries with established
    (if vulnerable and aging) electrical grids. The next billions won’t be so
    lucky.

    1. List the $99 tablets from Intel I can go to Walmart and buy?
      How about the $199 HD resolution Intel tablets I can go buy?
      Intel has issues it needs to overcome. Its not about the fastest chip but the chip thats fast enough has the most battery life and has enough add ons to make it interesting.
      A $199 tablet you can buy today with HD res can read and edit word docs/play HD movies at HD res/ play music and play games. The K1 can play the Unreal Engine 4, fully supports DirectX 11 and Opel GL 4.4. What can Intel add? What do they bring to the table?

      1. Well… since you asked… Here’s a $99 Intel based tablet being sold at Walmart…

        https://www.walmart.com/ip/27618120?wmlspartner=wlpa&adid=22222222227022152361&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=c&wl3=34345876261&wl4=&wl5=pla&wl6=62265503461&veh=sem

        Sure, it’s low end but what $99 tablet isn’t?

        While the initial K1 release will still be 32BIt processor based on Cortex A15… The 64bit version won’t be out for several more months and by then we’ll probably be seeing the Cherry Trail update from Intel that promises to be a big graphical performance update, which is where Intel is mainly still behind and thus looks like they’re closing the last gap to fully competing with ARM in every aspect…

        Anyway, there’s a fair number of Intel devices at around $200, even more at $300-$400 but those are higher cost mainly because the initial releases of Bay Trail were only quad core and MS W8 requirements meant higher minimum storage and RAM than most low cost ARM based tablets would provide and thus generally higher costs…

        But Intel is releasing the lower end Bay Trail’s now and OEMs have the option to put either Android (including full 64bit) or W8.1 update 1, which is free to OEM’s making devices 9″ or smaller and newer boards are small enough to put into 7″ tablets to further lower costs…

        Along with WIMBoot option to squeeze the entire Windows install into something taking up only around 3GB… Even without WIMBoot, the new W8.1 update 1 can shave a few GB off the old install size for W8 for new devices… and thus put a lot less pressure on OEMs to use higher capacity storage and thus can more easily configure for lower cost devices…

        Whether we’ll actually see any devices sold for the $99-$129 range… we’ll have to wait and see but it should be fairly easy for OEMs to at least get well below $200 for starting price devices soon…

        1. I am not holding my breath for Intel to catch up. Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 device or Google Nexus 7 which has a 1900×1200 screen and just enough Snap Dragon to use it. Samsung with the Galaxy Tab 4 Pro thats under 400 with 2560 x 1600 screen res. And these devices are old in the world of tablet wars.
          Each of these other tablets have unique things to offer again Intel has a chip. Great will the deliver a 299 tablet with 2560×1600 screen res that can play 3D games like a K1 with enough battery to go for hours and hours?
          Sorry, just not seeing Intel having the chops for this. They have MONEY and lots of it. But this consumer computer device world is not a market place they know how to compete in.They need a new division(for Intel everything takes a division) and I dont see them plunking down the cash to do that. This time its NOT just the chip although selling them is the end result.

          1. I disagree, for one thing ARM devices are still limited and having better graphical performance does not mean you’ll be seeing better games on them!

            Intel may have to catch up on GPU performance but at least you can already play most PC games on them and that makes finding good games a lot easier…

            While GPU performance isn’t the only thing that matters for gaming anyway, a lot of games need good CPU performance too… and it’s not like most ARM devices are being shipped with a lot of storage or RAM…

            Besides, I already pointed out the version of the K1 coming out soon will not be 64bit but rather will continue to use the same Cortex A15 based cores as the Tegra 4… It’ll be months longer before we’ll see the 64bit version… and that means the version coming out soon won’t offer better CPU performance than what Intel’s Bay Trail already offers…

            Meanwhile, Intel already developed a 64bit KitKat Android image for OEM developers to start getting Bay Trail based devices ready and that means they’ll be first to market to offer 64bit Android devices.

            And Intel is definitely already “plunking” down the cash because, as I already mentioned in a previous post, Intel is subsidizing the pricing of their mobile SoCs…

            Since, right now, ARM manufacturers have the advantage with mass production volumes high enough to ensure pretty low unit costs but Intel isn’t there yet until they get more market share… So, till then they’re subsidizing the pricing to artificially allow their mobile SoCs to compete with ARM pricing…

            So, make no mistake, Intel is serious on becoming competitive and they mainly just need to worry about getting more market share…

            Whether they succeed remains to be seem, as nothing is certain until it already happened but I’d hardly say you have to worry much on whether they’re serious…

            It’s more a question of whether they’ll be competitive enough to gain market share away from ARM in the mobile market…

            But they’re already addressing their weak points… Present goals is by the end of 2015 to have a scalable SoC with up to 5x the CPU performance and 15x the graphical performance of the previous Clover Trail ATOM, all while still remaining a low powered fanless mobile SoC, and they’re already well on the way to getting there…

            The upcoming Cherry Trail update not only puts the ATOM on Intel’s new 14nm FAB by the end of this year but also gives it the same Gen 8 GPU as their upcoming high end Broadwell that’ll replace present Haswell… and increase the EU core count from 4, for Bay Trail and it’s Gen 7 GPU, to 16 EUs for Cherry Trail… along with increasing the max memory bandwidth, doubling support of RAM up to 8GB, and increasing the max CPU clock speed from 2.4 to 2.7GHz…

            And that’s just the tic for the tic-toc two year product cycle Intel now has the ATOM on, mirroring what they’ve traditionally done with their higher end Core series…

            So, they may still have some hurdles to overcome but I’d hardly suggest underestimating them at this point…

            Besides, nothing wrong with more competition… it usually ends up with consumers getting more choices and better options from all involved…

            Like, if Intel’s efforts make ARM manufacturers accelerate their time tables then that’s all the better for end users getting improvements just that much faster…

          2. I hear everything you are saying but allot of the cool stuff went happen until 14nm. That’s at least a year away by then 8 core arm will be out there. I program and 32/64 has not been all that for performance. Pc still boots like a pig, memory transfers interrupted by the OS because the system as a whole has so many bottle necks. that said, Arm has lots of players and i am looking forward to them as well as Intel bringing it to the consumer. Truly, next to phones this is am exciting market place and seeing it grow from heavy metal boxes to touch screen voice active tech with 300dpi monitor resolution is just wild

          3. A year away? Nope, Intel is moving to 14nm this year… Cherry Trail should start shipping to OEMs within the next three months and we’ll start seeing final products in time for the holiday shopping season…

            While 64bit means scalability beyond the needs of just mobile devices and the main reason why they’re pushing it now and those that are ready first can scale up first and offer a greater dynamic range of usages/performance…

            Mobile devices are mainly limited by a combination of cost and power… for the later they can’t make them too powerful because they’ll start using too much energy and in turn generate too much heat…

            Thus why even a Nexus 5 still has issues with performance throttling because not even ARM can get around such limitations…

            But what works fine for mobile is not enough for productivity and higher end usages…

            Applications like servers are the first usages that can take advantage of 64bit first and providing performance and low power and low cost could be game changers for that part of the market…

            While we’ll slowly see improvements in the mobile… like the eventual switch to LP-DDR4 means higher density RAM that still be power efficient and eventually similarly low cost… So in another two years we’ll start seeing devices with 4 to 8 GB of RAM instead of the 2-3 limit we see now…

            So, in short, 64bit is to pave the way for future development…

    2. If intel goes the way of ARM and closes down parts of its SOC then it won’t be very interesting. If they remain open they may make some headway into that market.
      Intel’s problem is that they really really want to keep margins high and likely will do everything they can so they don’t have to compete on price.

      1. Not the case, for now anyway… Intel is subsidizing the pricing of their mobile SoCs to better compete with ARM offerings… So, like how MS got into the game console business, Intel is similarly willing to take losses to get their proverbial foot in the door of the mobile market and slowly chip away at ARM’s dominance there…

        So Intel’s real problem is still justifying the high margins for their higher end Core series products… After all, the market for high end PC’s isn’t what it used to be and low end devices meet the needs of most people…

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