Intel is taking low-power computing seriously these days. In fact, the company now offers 3 different lines of chips aimed at low-power tablets and 2-in-1 notebooks: the Intel Atom x5 and x7 “Cherry Trail” family, the Intel Celeron and Pentium “Braswell” family, and the Intel Core M “Broadwell Y” family.

All of these chips use 6 watts of power or less, and computer makers can use any of them to create thin, light, and efficient tablets, notebooks, or 2-in-1s. But how do you know which solution to use?

Intel has outlined some of the deciding factors in a presentation at the Intel Developer Forum in China.

jd

The most obvious differences between the chips are their prices and performance levels: from least to most expensive (and powerful), they generally go: Atom x5, Atom x7, Celeron, Pentium, and Core M.

But Intel also points out that you’ll get the longest battery life (with the same battery capacity) if you opt for an Atom chip. The company also recommends using Atom processors with eMMC storage, which means that tablets or convertibles with these chips will likely have 64GB of storage or less while systems with Celeron or more powerful chips can use eMMC, mSATA, and/or SATA storage for larger capacities.

choosing chips

Intel offers a reference design for Core M tablets and convertibles: and some of the cheap Chinese tablets we’ve seen featuring these chips are based on this reference design.

core m ref

Intel says part of the reason companies like Cube, Vido, and Teclast have been able to get Core M devices to market so quickly is because they’ve used Intel’s reference designs as a starting point.

The chip maker has also created a new reference design for 2-in-1 tablets with detachable keyboards called “Orchid Island.”

orchid island

This design is for an 11.6 inch tablet with an Intel Braswell chip, 4GB of RAM, and prices ranging from about $299 to $349. Don’t be surprised if we see Chinese device makers rush products to market based on this design soon as well.

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9 replies on “Intel pushes Atom, Braswell, and Core M chips for tablets and 2-in-1 laptops”

  1. I am ready to move from ARM tablets to the larger 2 in 1 Intels for reading PDFs. Some PDF files make my notebooks and desktop computers slow so I want the extra power from the new Intel chips. The common landscape orientation shown is good for occasional videos and what I want now is better portrait mode for normal reading. I am looking at the 12″ to 14″ sizes including the Surface Pro 3 for example.
    My Nook HD+ has 1920×1280 (much better than 1920×1080) except I would like a proportional increase with a larger size display for easier reading of detailed PDF files. Some manufacturers are already ahead of the Intel reference designs with the bigger and better screens and those are what I am considering now.

    1. According to Microsoft Store [My editing added]:
      Quad-core
      Intel Atom x7-Z8700 processor (2MB Cache, 1.6GHz with Intel Burst
      technology up to 2.4GHz) Surface 3 [2015 ed.] offers more than 80% of the
      performance of Surface Pro 3 with Intel Core i3 processor [2014 ed.]
      [My edit] I suppose I need to wait for the Surface Pro 3 [2015]

      1. I don’t think that can be right. The core M’s aren’t even 80% the performance of a normal i3.

        1. The optional 1200×800 is 3:2, but the default 1366×768 and 1920×1080 are both 16:9…

          Maybe the OEM will opt for the 1200×800 but I’m sure someone will complain about that being too low resolution :-p

          So, yeah, Surface 3 is best choice right now for a 3:2 ratio that also has a good enough resolution for most people, not to mention the n-trig digitizer and you’ll just have to get the optional pen to use…

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