Intel Shows Off Atom Platform for Tablets

At Computex, Intel officials talk up an Atom platform code-named Oak Trail that the company is preparing for the burgeoning tablet PC space. Intel also shows off a concept design of a very slim netbook powered by a dual-core Atom chip.

Intel is continuing its push to expand the reach of its low-power Atom processors.

At the Computex show in Taipei, Taiwan, held June 1 to 5, Dadi Perlmutter, executive vice president and co-general manager of Intel's Architecture Group, gave attendees a look at what the chip maker has planned for the Atom platform.

In his keynote address, Perlmutter showed off "Oak Trail," an Atom platform intended for the fast-growing tablet PC space and for the thin netbooks that are expected to begin appearing on the market in early 2011.

The Oak Trail SoC (system-on-a-chip) platform will offer a low-power Atom chip and hub, use less power than the current platform and be about half the size. Intel officials reportedly said Oak Trail will work with Windows 7, Google Android and the MeeGo operating system, which Intel jointly created with Nokia.

The tablet space, which has been around for a while, has gotten a shot in the arm with the release in April of the iPad, of which Apple has sold more than 2 million units in its first 60 days on the market.

Now a host of vendors are building tablet PCs, including Dell with its Streak and Hewlett-Packard, which is expected to build a tablet that runs the WebOS operating system that it is acquiring from Palm.

Also at the show, Asustek Computer announced that it was building two Intel Core-based tablets that will run Windows 7.

Intel is aggressively pushing the Atom platform-which initially was aimed at the netbook space-into multiple markets, from smartphones to smart TVs to in-car entertainment systems. Most of these devices run on ARM-designed processors, but Intel is looking to crack into the increasingly valuable consumer electronics and mobility spaces.

At Computex, Intel reportedly showed off a host of tablet prototypes from a number of vendors, including Asus, LG Electronics and MSI.

Still, Intel is giving ARM-based chip makers-such as Qualcomm and Samsung-a head start on the tablet market, as Oak Trail won't be coming out in products until early 2011.

Perlmutter also said Intel expects netbooks based on the company's dual-core "Pine Trail" processors to begin hitting the market in 2010. During his speech, he showed off a demo notebook from Intel called "Canoe Lake," a machine powered by a dual-core Atom that is about a half-inch thick with a 10-inch display.

Some OEMs are working on netbooks based on the Intel design that will come out in the second half of 2010, he reportedly said. The netbooks would join notebooks that already are coming out with dual-core Atoms.