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Intel aims Bay Trail SoC at sub-$200 Android tablets

Sep 11, 2013  |  Eric Brown
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Intel shared new details about its 22nm “Silvermont” architecture “Bay Trail-T” system-on-chip, targeting affordable Android and Windows 8 tablets. The Intel Atom Z3000 family SoC will come in dual- and quad-core models, offering twice the performance of current Atom chips while providing 10-hour battery life, says Intel.

Intel announced its 22nm, Tri-Gate 3D enabled Silvermont Atom architecture back in May, and promised that the first SoCs based on Silvermont would be a Bay Trail model that would ship in tablets by the end of the year. Intel appears to be sticking to that schedule, as today at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF), the chipmaker unveiled the Intel Atom Z3000 family (“Bay Trail-T”) of SoCs aimed at tablets and 2-in-1 (hybrid tablet/notebook) devices.



Silvermont core block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

 

In 2014, the Z3000 will be followed by “Bay Trail-M” SoCs aimed at higher end 2-in-1 devices, along with “Bay Trail-D” SoCs designed for notebooks and compact desktops (see farther below). Also in 2014, other Silvermont-based SoC designs, including a Merrifield SoC for smartphones, are due to ship.

The new Bay Trail SoCs can also be expected to wend their way into a wide range of board-level embedded products, including single-board computers, computer-on-modules, industry-specific backplane processor blades, and full-custom designs. To facilitate embedded market design wins the company typically adds a subset of its mobile processors and SoCs to its embedded processor roadmap, accompanied by extended lifecycle guarantees and wider range operating temperatures. However, at this point the company has not publicly disclosed those plans.
 

Higher performance, lower power

Back in May, Intel said Silvermont SoCs would offer about 3x the peak performance and up to 5x the power efficiency of CloverLeaf+ Atoms (see slide set below). Intel now says only that tablets based on the Z3000 will provide over 10 hours of battery life and three weeks of standby in a fanless form-factor. In addition to power efficiencies provided by the 22nm process and Tri-Gate 3D Tri-Gate non-planar transistor technology, Silvermont offers power management features such as Intel Burst Technology 2.0, which offers power sharing between CPU cores as well as GPUs, and features dynamic adjustments of burst operating points.



Silvermont performance comparisons
(click images to enlarge)

 

Bay Trail will deliver up to twice the CPU performance and twice the GPU performance of today’s Atoms, an Intel representative told The Verge, apparently referring to CloverTrail + Atom Z2580 SoCs. The Intel rep who spoke with Engadget was even more enthusiastic, claiming up to three times the GPU performance. According to Engadget, the fastest of the initial crop of Z3000 SoCs is the Atom Z3770, a quad-core model with clock speeds up to 2.4GHz that supports resolutions up to 2,560 x 1,600 pixels.

In its formal announcement, Intel does not offer such specific performance promises, but says the Z3000 includes features such as Intel Burst Technology 2.0 and up to 2MB L2 cache, which help improve multitasking. The graphics boost is due in part to swapping out earlier PowerVR SGX GPUs with Intel HD graphics, which also supports DirectX 11 and OpenGL ES 3.0.

According to Intel, the Atom Z3000 will primarily target tablets running Android or Windows 8, and one upcoming device will offer both. Tablets are expected in the fourth quarter from AAVA, Acer, Asus, Dell, Lenovo, and Toshiba for as low as $199, says the chipmaker. The devices will be available with specs as low as an 8mm profile and 1-pound weight, and offering screen sizes ranging from 7 to 11.6 inches.

Third-party software partners include Cyberlink, Skype-HD, Netflix-HD, PhiSix, Arcsoft, Tieto, and Gameloft, says Intel. Business use is said to be supported with security features including McAfee DeepSAFE, AES hardware full disk encryption, Intel Platform Trust Technology, Intel Identity Protection, and Intel Data Protection.

Some business customers may want to wait until early 2014 when Intel will add 64-bit support for Z3000-based tablets. The 64-bit tablets will feature additional enterprise features including Intel Identity Protection Technology (IPT) with PKI, says Intel.
 

Coming in 2014: Bay Trail-M and Bay Trail-D

The Bay Trail-T Atom Z3000 will be followed in 2014 by Bay Trail-M SoCs for 2-in-1 devices and “Bay Trail-D” SoCs for notebooks and desktops. The Bay Trail-M SoCs will include the Intel Pentium N3510, and Intel Celeron N2910, N2810, and N2805 processors. The M line will feature up to three times faster performance in productivity applications and up to three times improvement in graphics compared to “3-year-old Intel-based value notebooks,” says Intel. The processors support fanless 2-in-1 configurations, and devices as thin as 11mm, and as light as 2.2 pounds. Intel expects the systems to start at $199 (clamshell), $250 (touch-enabled notebook), and $349 (2-in-1).

The “Bay Trail-D” SoCs offer the smallest footprints Intel has ever developed for desktop systems, “making them ideal for fanless and smaller form-factor systems for entry level desktop computing,” says Intel. They include the Pentium J2850, Celeron J1850, and Celeron J1750, and support systems as affordable as $199.
 

Further information

More details on the Bay Trail SoCs may be found in Intel’s Bay Trail announcement. For more background on Intel’s Silvermont technology, see our earlier in-depth Silvermont coverage.
 

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