As tablets continue to be the hot topic in the market, hardware vendors are becoming less and less enamored of Intel’s Atom chips for the new devices. While the low-power, low cost chips made the growth of Netbooks possible, they are neither low power or low cost ENOUGH to satisfy tablet designers who continue to look to ARM chips for the new devices according to a report in Digitimes.
Intel has been pushing their upcoming Oak Trail platform hard as a tablet alternative, but the vendors aren’t buying it and according to Digitimes sources have confirmed that Android based tablets using ARM chips like the Snapdragon and Hummingbird will be their main focus for new tablets.
Of course, the vendors have no desire to burn any bridges with Intel, so they will go through the motions and release a handful of tablets to satisfy Intel and Microsoft while also testing the market just in case…however they are laying heavy bets on ARM and Android for this round of “The Next Big Thing”. Most vendors will be displaying engineering prototypes of Atom based tablets at this years Intel Developer Forum, but they will not be committing to actually producing them without some very positive market reaction.
Considering the stance of the tablet vendors, Microsoft’s move to get closer to ARM makes better and better sense. While the Atom may never be able to compete with ARM for the tablet market, it is possible Windows Embedded 7 or a touch-friendly shell over Windows 7 could match up with Android on an ARM chip, especially if it would be able to run PC applications right out of the box.
I will be paying far more attention to what the vendors and the tech bloggers are saying at IDF this year than I will to what devices are actually on display, since this year it is even less likely what we see will ever be available in stores.