by Anton Shilov
10/17/2013 | 11:02 PM
The latest low-power/low-cost micro-architecture from Intel Corp. has finally made application processors for ultra-portable devices from the company comparable to ARM architecture-based offerings in terms of power consumption. It looks like the world’s largest chipmaker does not want to stop there and plans to offer system-on-chips which price will also be comparable to ARM-powered SoCs.
After many years of trying, Intel has finally introduced system-on-chips based on Silvermont micro-architecture that could fit into media tablets thanks to scenario design power (SDP) of around 2W. A number of hardware manufacturers have already announced their slates based on Atom “Bay Trail-T” Z3000-series processors, whereas the other will do so by the holiday season. Despite of low consumption of energy, the new Atom chips offer high performance in both general-purpose and graphics applications, compatibility with x86 programs and some other advantages. One drawback that Intel’s latest tablet-oriented SoCs have is price. Being sold for $32 - $37, Intel Atom “Bay Trail-T” Z3000-series just cannot compete head-to-head against ARM-based chips that cost $15 - $25 - $30, even when Intel provides 10% discount to large customers.
In a bid to finally compete against popular ARM-based application processors from companies like MediaTek or Qualcomm, the world’s largest chipmaker intends to introduce Atom “Bay Trail-T” models priced in the range between $15 and $20, according to a report by DigiTimes web-site. The entry-level chips may not perform like their more expensive brethren, but their capabilities should be enough to compete against low-cost SoCs featuring ARM cores.
Lenovo IdeaPad Miix2 media tablet based on Intel Atom Z3000-series "Bay Trail-T" processor and Microsoft Windows 8.1 operating system.
Keeping in mind the fact that Nvidia Corp. traditionally prices its high-end Tegra application processors at around $30, it will be interesting to see the number of Tegra 4 design wins and compare it to Intel’s Atom Z3000-series’ design wins.
While Intel did not confirm existence of plans to release low-cost Atom “Bay Trail-T” Z3000-family system-on-chips, the company did say that it is interested in being flexible in terms of pricing. Given the fact that the chips are made using 22nm and are cheaper to produce than ARM-powered SoCs at 28nm node, Intel may have an opportunity to lower its pricing.
“As for Bay Trail pricing, we have not announced new pricing or parts. That said, in response to market demand, we are absolutely looking at getting Bay Trail into lower SPPs for tablets. We talked about this at IDF and a bit at Computex, too. It entails working very closely with OEM and ODM partners. When we have more to share here, we will definitely let you know,” said Kari Aakre, a spokeswoman for Intel, in an email.