Intel to make appearance in Samsung tab

Rumours are circling like overweight vultures that Intel chips will be making an appearance under the bonnet of a new range of Samsung tablets.

The mutterings suggest that Intel will finally be making its move into the tablet market with a Windows 8 based device to be showcased at both the Microsoft BUILD conference and Intel Developer Forum.  The chief mutterer is HotHardware.

Most think it is about time Intel began to make a splash in tablets.  Despite opinion being mixed over the ability to usurp the traditional PC or laptop, by non Apple fans at least, Intel is undoubtedly running the risk of being left behind in a changing market.

It has been putting its faith into the development of the Ultrabook, and these will too be showcased at both conferences.  But while the Ultrabook sounds like the a tablet beater by offering the best of both worlds, there have been significant problems with keeping the cost of components down.

As mentioned in a story by TechEye’s editor, this means both a difficulty in attracting a public swayed by the relatively low price of say an iPad, compounded with the possibility of low margins despite heading north of $1,000. This seems to have put off some vendors, who have adjusted their orders accordingly.

With this background, any moves that Intel makes into the tablet market becomes important.  It is the bell to start ARM wrestling for control of the of the chip design following Microsoft decision to use both in versions of its tablets.

It is thought that it will be either Intel’s Cedar Trail or Medfield that will be found in the Samsung tablet.  But while it will be interesting to see Intel’s foray into tablets compared to ARM’s own designs, it will be sometime before any prototypes from Samsung hit the market, with Windows 8 not expected to hit the shelves before late 2012.

TechEye spoke to iSuppli analyst Francis Sidaco who believes that it is good that Intel is seeing its chips used in products developed by a big player in the tablet market such as Samsung.

He said that there are two types of tablet, evolving.  There is the media tablet such as the iPad with a mobile operating system, and the PC tablet. It will be interesting to see if the Intel device is firmly in the media tablet area.  This will epend on what version of Windows 8 we see at IDF, Sidaco  said.

“If it is a media tablet then it shows that the Atom is able to reach power levels necessary in the tablet space. Overall for Intel it is good news, working with a new device manufacturer that is connected with mobile products, and not Dell or others,” he added.

Samsung is an OEM which has focused on mobile, and therefore it is a big win for Intel. Intel still has a long road ahead if it is going to muscle in on the tablet market.  Sicado told us that there are many challenges awaiting.

Sidaco said that Windows 8 gives  Intel the best opportunity as it is designed to work with the x86 structure.  The challenge is that none of the other operating systems have been constructed that way.

“One of the other main challenges is that the processing power is certainly there for Intel but the battery budget is a lot less tolerant.”

Coming from the PC market will be a struggle but Intel will get there, it just depends how fast, he said. Whether Intel can fall back on the Ultrabook market Sicado was less optimistic.

Isuppli believe that it will be around 2015 to 2016 when the Ultrabook will really blur the lines between the PC and media tablet. Until then the majority of shipments are going to be the likes of the  iPad, Galaxy, he said.

 Chipzilla will need to accelerate its development. Until that happens, the ultrabook will some impact on purchase decisions but not a tremendous amount, Sidaco  added.