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Lincroft (CPU/GPU SoC), branded as the Intel Atom Z6xx series processor (right), and Oak Trail (chipset), branded as the SM35 Express chipset (left), will be popping up on Windows tablets soon.  (Source: Intel)

Oak Trail packs full PCI bus support. It is compatible with Windows, Android, and other platforms.  (Source: Intel)

One of the early Oak Trail models will be the Asus EeePad Slider.  (Source: Intel)
Company claims it will "move faster than Moore's Law"

Intel Corp.'s (INTC) ultra-mobile efforts (smartphones, tablets), recently hit a slight speed bump with the abrupt departure of Anand Chandrasekher, senior vice president of mobility.

To begin to compete in the smartphone and tablet space, Intel needs to try to launch three major Intel Atom designs this year -- a high end tablet platform (Oak Trail) for Windows tablets; a lightweight tablet platform for Android and other lighter tablets (Moorestown); and a smartphone processor (Medfield).  The first of that trio -- Oak Trail officially landed today [press release].

The chip and chipset are shipping to OEMs now and will be popping up in consumer products next month.

I. Oak Trail -- Powering Long Await Windows Tablets

Lincroft and Oak Trail will be teaming up to provide something customers (or DailyTech readers, at least) have been clamoring for -- Windows tablets.  Currently Windows tablets are more rare than the Siberian Tiger, with just a handful of models -- such as the HP Slate from Hewlett-Packard, Comp. (HPQ) -- selling at low volumes.  Those older models are all built on older Atom processors.

With the new processor/chipset, Intel finally has a dedicated solution and the result is a processor that makes much better sense to put in a tablet than its previous offerings.  

Intel has announced that its partners in deploying Windows tablets include Evolve III, Fujitsu Limited, Lenovo, Motion Computing, Razer, and Viliv.

Intel says the new platform is also perfect for Android, Meego (its proprietary OS), and other operating systems.  While the unreleased Moorestown may be a better fit for those platforms, Lincroft/Oak Trail may be an acceptable stopgap solution.

II. What's Inside the Chip, Chipset?

i. The Chip

The new chipset Oak Trail accompanies the processor codenamed Lincroft, whose models will be branded under the name Intel Atom Z6xx (with "xx" denoting the product number).

The Z6xx series features an integrated GPU (the Intel Media Accelerator 600) and memory controller on its die.  In order to fit those components neatly on the die, Intel has shrunk the CPU by 60 percent in size.  The new CPU is clocked between 1.5 GHz (Z670) and 800 MHz (Z600).

Intel has not announced specific details on the built-in GPU, other than to say that it will be capable of playing high definition 1080p video.  Intel says the chip will also be more than capable of running media written in Adobe Flash media.

The entire chip is a second-generation architecture built on a 45 nm process.  The chip's memory controller supports both DDR and DDR2 RAM.

But perhaps the most important thing is that the entire platform draws between 3 watts (Z670) and 1.3 watts (Z600).  While not as low as ARM, these low figures are a much better effort and dramatically lower than Intel's previous offerings.  As you might notice, this is partly thanks to dropping the clock speed, but it's also largely driven by design improvements.

Intel uses two power technologies dubbed SpeedStep and Enhanced Deeper Sleep.  The former technology offers multiple voltage points to help match the voltage (and power) to the necessary processing speed.  The latter converts cache to system memory when the system goes inactive.  This provides a net power savings, as well.

The processor is a fanless design.

ii. The Chipset

The new chipset includes a PCI bus, a necessary component for Windows tablets.

Aside from the PCI bus, the chipset is pretty expectable -- it includes support for USB 2.0 and HDMI.  Intel has made it more "green" by ditching halogens and lead.

The new chipset's official branding is "SM35 Express".

III. What's Next?

Intel still has to get Moorestown and Medfield out the door.  But it also mentioned in its press release that it would be preparing a 32 nm refresh of Oak Trail, dubbed Cedar Trail.  Intel's press release seemed to indicate that Cedar Trail would be aimed at both netbooks and desktops.  It’s hard to imagine a decent Atom desktop, but it should be interesting to see what Intel cooks up.

With ARM firmly entrenched in the smartphone and tablet market, its ARM's game to lose.  Intel obviously brings a lot of marketing muscle to the table, but it remains to be seen in dedicated independent benchmarking how Lincroft-based tablets hold up battery-life wise.  

Intel claimed in its press release that it's moving "faster than Moore's Law".  It certainly needs to given how far behind in tablets and smart phones it is.

Intel also has to beware ARM creeping into netbooks.  Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) patience with it is waning, as evidenced by the company's decision to support ARM in future versions of Windows.  Intel has a narrow window of opportunity to prove its mettle.  Thus it will be very interesting to see how this new platform fares, both in real-world performance, and in sales.

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Still two chips.
By Flunk on 4/12/2011 9:39:40 AM , Rating: 2
How do they expect to compete with Android tablets if it's not even a system on a chip design. On paper it doesn't even seem to compare to ARM chips (like the Nvidia Tegra 2) you can already get in tablets. And as for Windows support... 1.6Ghz single core Atom isn't going to provide any sort of experience that people are going to want.

I don't see this going very far.

RE: Still two chips.
By Belard on 4/12/2011 9:52:30 AM , Rating: 2
And how does it compare to AMD's Fusion CPUs... which are easily more powerful and less power hungry.

RE: Still two chips.
By corduroygt on 4/12/2011 9:58:30 AM , Rating: 3
Fusion CPU's are 9W for the lowest power single core version, so you are wrong about "less power hungry." Intel has always bested AMD in performance per watt since the C2D.

RE: Still two chips.
By quiksilvr on 4/12/2011 10:02:28 AM , Rating: 3
In CPU performance maybe, but APUs are a whole different animal. The GPU utterly decimates Intel HD (even the 3000s on the Sandy Bridge CPUs) and combined, it takes the same if not less power.

RE: Still two chips.
By therealnickdanger on 4/12/2011 10:47:51 AM , Rating: 2
The GPU utterly decimates Intel HD (even the 3000s on the Sandy Bridge CPUs)

What GPU are you referring to?

SNB+HD3000 has roughly 2X faster graphics than current AMD Fusion (E350+HD6310). SNB also runs circles around Fusion for general purpose computing. For heavy flash surfing, SNB achieves roughly 84% of the relative battery life of Fusion. Fusion, at present, just can't do nearly as much as SNB on the top end, but then isn't that much more impressive for menial tasks... Once Llano hits it will be more in AMD's favor on all fronts, but the here and now seems to indicate that Zacate/Ontario still isn't as efficient as SNB as an overall package.



RE: Still two chips.
By Da W on 4/12/2011 10:54:03 AM , Rating: 2
Talk triple power usage for SNB.

Compare apple with apples. Compare bobcat with atom, and Sandy bridge with Llano and then bulldozer.

RE: Still two chips.
By quiksilvr on 4/12/2011 11:13:20 AM , Rating: 2
What he said. Sorry I didn't specify.

RE: Still two chips.
By Motoman on 4/12/2011 10:57:09 AM , Rating: 2

While it is true that the 3000 outperforms the 6310...the fact is that the Intel 3000 is still #156 on the list of mobile video chipsets.

The best that Intel has ever been able to produce is now ahead of some of AMD's cheapest options. Hooray.

RE: Still two chips.
By Mitch101 on 4/12/2011 11:02:59 AM , Rating: 2
Keep in mind Tablets have a resolution around 1024x600 and limited memory space so the majority of games are scaled down unlike a PC version. Most games are less than X-Box 1 level and that was a 733mhz-64meg machine.

The Intel GPU can drive that resolution and detail quite well while providing HD playback. Sure the AMD/NVIDIA offerings can drive more triangles or even more FPS but for the majority of the games that come on tablets its overkill for now.

RE: Still two chips.
By StevoLincolnite on 4/12/2011 11:29:12 AM , Rating: 4
If you buy a notebook/tablet/desktop and intend to GAME on Intel IGP's you are asking for disappointment, it's not all about Performance.

Intel's drivers for instance are pathetic, didn't it take them like 12+ months to bring TnL/Shader Model 3 to the Intel x3100?

Then game compatibility is like playing a game of chance, some games work extremely well, some... Not at all.
Some game won't even launch because it's not an ATI/nVidia based GPU.

Sandy Bridge was a step in the right direction, but it's still not nearly enough.

RE: Still two chips.
By SPOOFE on 4/12/2011 8:58:48 PM , Rating: 2
It always depends on the game. Torchlight, for example, runs amazingly well on Intel graphics, and looks really good doing it.

Some devs are smart and are designing their software for what is, by far, the largest hardware base. Some are stuck in the past and think their software can dictate the shape of hardware purchases.

RE: Still two chips.
By Da W on 4/12/2011 10:42:28 AM , Rating: 3
Bobcat trumps Atom in performance per watt.

Since a single core / 45nm / Atom @ 1.5 Ghz is 3W and a single core bobcat / 40nm @ 1.5 ghz is 9W, i would assume the GPU portion of the AMD chip is much more bigger and powerful.

Or Intel told number for the CPU portion of the die only.

RE: Still two chips.
By RU482 on 4/12/2011 10:44:54 AM , Rating: 2
for a tablet, who cares if it trumps it per watt if you have to add a pound of batteries to run the thing

RE: Still two chips.
By BSMonitor on 4/12/2011 10:58:35 AM , Rating: 2
No kidding, hence ARM's in tablets now. Compared to an x86 cpu, its a dog.. But power savings are more important than performance in this case.

RE: Still two chips.
By MrTeal on 4/12/2011 11:00:36 AM , Rating: 2
So, if I'm following your logic, you're saying that the Bobcat has a similarly clocked CPU to the Atom, and so the extra power used by Bobcat must be because of the the much more power GPU. Therefore, Bobcat trumps Atom in PPW.

Besides, you've got your numbers wrong. It's Ontario that's 9W, the single core version (C-30) is 1.2GHz with HD6250 graphics @ 280MHz. The single core Zacate (E-240) is 1.5Ghz with HD6310 @ 500MHz is an 18W TDP part.

That being said, they both run circles around existing Atom designs.

RE: Still two chips.
By Da W on 4/12/2011 11:58:55 AM , Rating: 2
No, you are not following my logic. I know that bobcat is an out-of-order atom basicly, with a 40nm process instead of 45. I know it's more powerful than an atom core, what's missing is the power usage for the Bobcat core only, which i only know was sub-1w capable. i recall benchmark by Anandtech saying it was more powerful than atom, if it uses only as much power, then it's better in performence per watt.

Now the info we have is 3W for oaktrail (CPU core or entire die, we don't know) and 9W for Ontario die. 6W more, with a similar CPU core, the GPU core must be vastly different.

RE: Still two chips.
By Gungel on 4/12/2011 12:15:43 PM , Rating: 2
AMD just taped out 28nm Ontario with only 5W TDP. Code name Wichita. It's still 4-6 month out before release, but it will run circles around Oak Trail.

RE: Still two chips.
By ekv on 4/12/2011 4:09:01 PM , Rating: 3
but it will run circles around Oak Trail.
We hope. [AMD's mktg group has made phenomenal claims before].

Good news nonetheless.

P.S. kudos to Dirk Meyers.

RE: Still two chips.
By Da W on 4/12/2011 10:51:51 AM , Rating: 4
Getting ready for Windows 8.

I'm not sure Android tablets are going to have the same success that the phones did. We can't deny the success of the Ipad for now, but with Intel powered Windows 7 tablets on the horizon (more than 30 designs or so Intel said), with Windows 8 coming supporting ARM and being much more lightweight and tablet friendly, and eventually AMD fusion powered Windows 8 tablets, Google have to prove that honeycomb tablets have something to offer that others don't. Especially if you have a Google phone. I mean, at least Windows tablets will sync with your home PC and you'll be able to use it as a REAL portable computer, with Microsoft office and the like.

RE: Still two chips.
By omnicronx on 4/12/2011 11:05:53 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure if this will be such a big issue for tablets. Remember the CPU, GPU and memory controllers are all on die, so its while its not completely integrated, the components that will draw a large bulk of the power are very similar.

You also need to remember this a 32nm part, while many ARM manufacturers are still using 65nm, and even 90nm in some older snapdragon based devices.(I believe all A8's are 65nm at the lowest and new dual core A9's are now using 45nm parts)

An ARM SOC would also likely require some kind of controller for a PCI bus in a Windows tablet too, which would minimize the difference even further.

While I do agree with you from a Smartphone standpoint, from a tablet standpoint they are not as bad off as you describe.

At least not for now ;) Who knows how much longer they will be able to keep the die size advantage.

RE: Still two chips.
By omnicronx on 4/12/2011 11:12:14 AM , Rating: 2
Hmm thought this was a 32nm part, mixed it up with Cedar Trail =/

RE: Still two chips.
By damianrobertjones on 4/13/2011 4:18:26 AM , Rating: 2
Nah, a standard atom will do fine as long as the oems don't go the Dell Duo route and have 70+ services running at startup. Also, it will do just fine if the machine has a good quality SSD Drive.

As it stands, a 1.5Ghz atom will do well if it's used for light browsing, media playback and quick MS Office work.

Besides, you're not going to run Photoshop on the thing (and even if you do, it probably won't be as bad as you think).

P.s. I've owned a HP Mini, Archos 9, Dell Inspiron Duo, all ATom based machines, all running just fine (Apart from the ARchos which was crippled the moment it left the factory)

RE: Still two chips.
By fteoath64 on 4/14/2011 1:15:30 AM , Rating: 2
Still you are comparing Atom Windows Tablet vs ARM Android Tablet so if both are priced the same. Choose which:

Atom Windows: Just usable but can hardly do 1080p. Not much GPU for graphics games at 1280X800. Medium battery life, bulky.

ARM Android (assume 1.5Ghz A9): Excellent tablet response, 1080p hdmi port and great gpu graphics. Long battery life (>7 hrs), thin and light-weight.

Easy to see which one wins customers. Just see how many millions the iPad has sold to date. Its ARM device.

This smells of interim
By aguilpa1 on 4/12/2011 10:22:18 AM , Rating: 2
Sounds like they just couldn't get the 32nm out in time. But if they don't release anything by the time 32 is out Intel will be irrelevant in that market. Atom was successful initially but then they thought (as always) it would continue and they could sit back and cash in. Turns out folks realized, Atom performance actually sucks. Now people don't want them and are looking for alternatives. Now there are lots of alternatives and Intel is caught scrambling to become relevant again.

RE: This smells of interim
By DanNeely on 4/12/2011 3:30:31 PM , Rating: 2
45nm oaktrail and 32nm cedertrail parts have been on the public roadmap for at least a year.

Two Application stores?
By Ammohunt on 4/12/2011 3:02:51 PM , Rating: 2
So would google have an x86 application store and an ARM based store? just seems intel is very late to the race and might be too far behind to catch up.

RE: Two Application stores?
By DanNeely on 4/12/2011 3:35:49 PM , Rating: 2
Depends on the app. Apps written entirely in java will be fine, since the final compile is done by the java runtime. Apps that have parts written in C++ would likely need to be recompiled by the author unless Google requires the submission of source along with binaries.

Windows Tablet chips
By IntelUser2000 on 4/13/2011 12:25:21 AM , Rating: 2
3W is perfectly fine for a Tablet, so is a 2 chip solution with a physical dimension small as Oak Trail. Given that it has proper power management, most Tablet workloads(standby/video viewing/web browsing) won't hit 3W, most of the time not more than half that.

Some manufacturers are claiming the same device with Android rather than Windows will achieve 2x the battery life, so OS is another factor that makes Windows less competitive in terms of power.

Smartphones are another thing, but I'm not off topic, right?

The new chipset includes a PCI bus
By RU482 on 4/12/11, Rating: -1
By DanNeely on 4/12/2011 10:04:03 PM , Rating: 1
I'm not sure why this was voted down.

The press release lists it as windows compatible, which AFAIK requires a PCI bus. The block diagram intel has for the Z6xx/SM35 systems however does not show a PCI/PCIe bus.

Sorry but
By FITCamaro on 4/12/11, Rating: -1
RE: Sorry but
By MrTeal on 4/12/11, Rating: 0
RE: Sorry but
By piroroadkill on 4/12/2011 11:05:06 AM , Rating: 1
Ah yes, because of all those CPUs that have failed randomly post RoHS, oh wait

"Vista runs on Atom ... It's just no one uses it". -- Intel CEO Paul Otellini

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