Posted on 30 April 2016, Last updated on 17 June 2018 by

intel-atom-logo.jpgThe Intel-based ultra mobile PC era is coming to an end.  The next generation of Intel SoCs for Windows and Android phones and tablets has been cancelled, signalling a departure from the 5-10 inch mobile PC space.  Core M could fill-in but it looks very much like Intel are stepping away from this market. We’ve covered this for over 10 years at UMPCPortal so it’s a hard-hitting story for this website and all its fans. What’s the future for ultra mobile PCs?

A post by Patrick Moorhead at Forbes reveals the news in an analysis of Intel’s announcement yesterday. The PC is now a ‘thing’ and Broxton, the platform for the next generation of the X5 and X7 Atom range, has been cancelled. In summary this means there will be no more Intel-based Windows tablets in the 8-10-inch space and while the 8-inch space is pretty much dead, the successful range of low-cost 10-inch tablets that were based on Baytrail and Cherry Trail don’t have platform that will take them into the future. There’s also a rumor that the current X5 and X7 processors, as used in the Surface 3, won’t continue.

The Cherry Trail and SoFIA products also underpin Intel’s work in the Android space so after Cherry Trail goes end-of-life there’s no reason for Intel to continue working on Android support.

What happens to the embedded and entry-level PC versions of the Atom core after Cherry Trail? I expect that Intel will continue with a part of the Atom roadmap as the embedded variant is important for industry (and IoT) and the entry-level PC versions, under the Celeron and Pentium brands, are used heavily in Chromebooks and entry-level laptops and desktops. Apollo Lake, the successor to Braswell, is likely to continue with its planned Goldmont core although in the longer term Core M path could evolve to cover this area meaning that Intel can completely shut down development of the Atom architecture. Core M is now the focal point for mobile PCs.

Intel presentation August 2015.

So what happens in the 7 and 8-inch space now? Given that the Windows 10 app store is dead and Windows phones aren’t selling, using the Windows Mobile platform would be a pointless move. IOS and Android will continue to dominate here and will push further into the productivity space. IoT and wearables are already IOS in an Android-only ecosystem and consumers will turn away from any OS that can’t support those products.

Intel will face the press at Computex so expect to get more hints about the future of Core M at the end of May but don’t expect them to market Core M as a low-cost Windows tablet solution in 2016. Intel have made a decision to step away and It speaks volumes for the future of Windows in mobile scenarios.


It’s the end of an era for sure and I’ll be thinking about what it means for UMPCPortal because the Atom SoC was the center of the UMPC universe. Core M is still an interesting story and I’ll continue to follow that along with developments in 7-10 inch Android and IOS devices. In the meantime it might be worth thinking about where Apple are going with their ‘post-PC’ strategy. Here’s my latest video for Notebookcheck on the iPad Pro 9.7 but first, let’s take a look back to 2008 when Intel introduced Atom and were promoting MIDs with Moblin.


35 Comments For This Post

  1. texrat says:


  2. chippy says:

    Yikes for Microsoft too. They’re now out of the ultra mobile space completely IMO.

  3. texrat says:

    Well, not completely… they did make a reference to ARM the other day…

  4. chippy says:

    I can’t see anyone taking a risk with any Windows on any technology in this space now.

  5. Graham_Douglas says:

    With mobile (smartphones) being current and relevant, it’s hardly surprising that Microsoft is failing beyond belief in this space. Think Google+ vs. Facebook. Knowing what you are helps. Microsoft is out of touch with today’s consumers and that should be frightening for the future. I’m a MS guy, so don’t mistake my view on it. Like Google trying to get in on social media, would anyone suggest they can change how people view them or their Google+ platform?

  6. texrat says:

    For me it IS surprising. They’ve known what had to be done, and have had the resources. Failure is coming from the highest reaches, though, and I have to mostly point at Bill Gates. His obsession with Windows in its original sense started becoming a handicap years ago. I believed this in mid 2000s and believe it now: the Windows brand should have never been attached to mobile. Even if the same tech lay under the hood, the platform should have been rebranded. People have a general negative perception of Windows and that played a large part in Microsoft’s mobile failures. Of course their crap marketing and support sure didn’t help.

  7. texrat says:

    Except Microsoft, which has no choice if the platform is to survive.

    Not to say they can’t change course entirely though.

  8. tauerman says:

    So ARM it is then?

  9. chippy says:

    I guess ARM wins. What an amazing fight though.

  10. Brad Linder says:

    FYI, I just got a statement from Intel. They’ll continue to ship Cherry Trail for now, and confirm that they’ll “work with OEMs” on new 2-in-1s featuring Apollo Lake.

    Not sure what impact that’ll have on the sub 10-inch space. But it sounds like they’re basically shifting the focus to higher-performance, higher-cost chips without giving up on the low-power portable space altogether.

  11. chippy says:

    That’s how I see it too. Considering the failure of UWP/Windows Store it seems like the only sensible place to deploy Windows now is in devices of 10-inch and above.

  12. Joe_HTH says:

    LOL! The failure of UWP and the Windows Store? You are beyond clueless. Both are practically in their infancy and they are not even close to failing.

  13. chippy says:

    2 years they’ve been trying to get developers interested and still nothing significant has happened. The two big platforms won’t stop evolving just because Microsoft is starting out. Tried using IoT or wearables on Windows lately? My latest camera only has an Android or IOS app. PC sales are falling. Intel just made it harder to make low cost mobile Windows devices. Do you really see some light at the end of this tunnel?

  14. texrat says:

    I’ll be the last to defend Microsoft’s MANY missteps in mobile, but as for UWP, everything I see says it’s (slowly) gaining traction.

  15. chippy says:

    ‘Traction’ ? It needs more than that. The other platforms are racing up the hill and UWP is just starting to get a grip in the mud. I remain open-minded and will continue to do my research on UWP. When the first announcements were made in 2014 I was over the moon because it was something I wanted them to do for years before that but I see less and less chance to catch up now. Even Google is waiting in the wings with a rumored Play Store for ChromeOS which could cause even more problems for Windows in the 10-13-inch low-cost space. I was a fan of UWP and a fan of smartbooks. I would love to see a Windows Mobile smartbook (driven by an ARM smartphone!?) with a class-leading store but I just don’t have any hope for that anymore.

  16. texrat says:

    I agree with your assessment, but my point was simply that there have been developments. “Something significant” is subjective though so I won’t quibble over it.

  17. DavidC2 says:

    Intel made a mistake. They are going to pay for it in more than obvious ones.
    Totally abandoning the market after throwing away so much money means companies in general will trust Intel less.
    This is akin to what HP’s Leo Apotheker did. The worst HP CEO ever. It looks like Brian is to Leo Intel is to HP. HP lost significant marketshare because Leo announced they’ll abandon PCs, even though #1.
    You abandon your big customers, what do you think they’ll think of the whole company in general?

    Beginning of their end.

  18. Brad Linder says:

    UMPCs and even netbooks existed before the Atom lineup. If device makers want to continue producing small-screen devices, they’ll find the chips. There are already entry-level Chromebooks using Rockchip’s ARM-based processors, for instance.

    But yeah… this is definitely a big shakeup, and part of the reason is certainly that there’s little profit in the space. So I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of companies that are currently producing small, low-cost Windows tablets decide to take their cue from Intel and either drop out of the space, or switch to higher-priced Core M chips and target a niche audience.

    Apollo Lake appears to still be on track, but that will probably be used for entry-level notebooks more than for UMPC/tablets.

  19. wimup says:

    From other places, it sounds like Intel is getting rid of the smartphone oriented SoCs. Intel still plans to release Celerons and Pentiums based on the what used to be called the Atom line (which they’ve already have been doing). Broxton is renamed to Apollo Lake and modified to have more PC instead of smartphone features,

  20. chippy says:

    Not quite. The highly integrated platform used to make low cost mobile Windows products is being removed. It’s possible that Apollo Lake will be modified but if it follows the same target market as Braswell its not the same. More complex, more power hungry, less integrated, larger. I see some 10 inch tablets having it but it would be better for Core M to be expanded into this area for higher margin products. We’ll get some more hints at Computed I’m sure.

  21. CyberGusa says:

    Speaking of modify… Have you looked at the Intel Slides from IDF 2016 yet?×330.png×345.png

    Seems to offer some key improvements that should help OEMs still offer affordable products…

    Besides 2 in 1’s, Intel is also still emphasizing Cloudbooks with Apollo Lake that will start at around $169 on up… for example…

  22. chippy says:

    This looks like the slide from 2015. And 2014. and… But seriously, I think Intel will extend down a bit more from where Braswell sat but products based on it are not going to win any design or battery life awards in my opinion. I could be wrong but creating a multi-purpose platform is never the best way to make a good end product. A tailored solution will always be better.

  23. CyberGusa says:

    But that’s the intended point of the Goldmont architecture, it’s not only the first big architecture update since Bay Trail but it’s the first that was suppose to allow customization and optimization to better fit a wide range of tailor-able applications.

    Broxton was suppose to extend from smart phones to tablet PCs and not just be tablet PC SoCs like Bay Trail and Cherry Trail were, for example. It would have ended the need for a separate branch for phone specific SoCs… Only SoFIA remained because Goldmont didn’t yet offer integrated modem option…

    While Apollo Lake is basically the exact same product but tailored for a bit higher SDP/TDP but nothing is stopping Intel from simply producing a model with a SDP/TDP that would have otherwise put it in the Broxton range… Same architecture, same supported features, and with a customizable and optimizable architecture it’s not locked in a narrow and specific role/range like Braswell was…

    The only thing that would have prevented Intel from doing something like that would have been product overlap concerns but none now exist now that they have officially cancelled Broxton…

    So, yes, I agree… They’ll extend the line beyond what Braswell offered for sure but I think that unless the Goldmont architecture proves to not be as customizable and adaptable as promised then I’d still hold out hope that they’ll at least still continue to support the tablet range as they only specifically stated they were stopping the Smart Phone range and seem to be still offering OEMs options for tablets with Apollo Lake… at the very least, they still intend to cater to the 2 in 1 market and that has overlap with the tablet market…

    The branding will just change to fit Apollo Lake and without subsidizing we are unlikely to see any product below $150… but even before they made this announcement they still intended to support Cloudbooks as low as $169 with Apollo Lake and a even cheaper, made for tablets, version could maybe make it down to $150 for a cheap tablet design…

    So the costs, are going to be the main reason, IMO, that they may not get as many design Wins but on the other hand, without an alternative and it still being cheaper than Core M but offering somewhat closer to Core M performance then it should still get more design wins than Braswell did…

  24. DavidC2 says:

    wimup: BROXTON is cancelled. Broxton is the platform that really defines “UMPC”.
    Yea, things will close a bit but Apollo Lake is for Embedded and low-cost devices.
    This also makes future of Apollo Lake unlikely. Do you see them developing the core after Broxton? Just for that low-end segment?

  25. Michael Kozakewich says:

    I’ve thought of this a little, and I guess it kind of makes sense. The last computer I got was a $100 8″ tablet, which is crazy. I suppose prices will come back down to that point eventually; but for now, a more expensive processor with similar performance/watt and double the performance might be a good idea. Atom wasn’t making Intel any money. It couldn’t last.

  26. Graham_Douglas says:

    Sorry to hear about this. A real kick in the nuts for sure. I felt a kick in the nuts with netbooks, so in a way I feel your pain. No more niche projects for me, or at least ones that I will invest in.

    Intel is really a lost puppy. The 2-in-1 hopes are based on the thought that consumers give a shit about Windows tablets and apps. How’s the Windows phone working out?

    If you consider what Atom was to Intel, they stunted it. They may it far less than what it could have been back in the day. Afterall, it was bringing down prices and changing the consumer willingness to spend $1000 of a laptop.

    So now they are killing it. Well I would suggest they tortured the Atom during the netbook phase and that it could have been so much more. They have been killing it slowly because it created profit issues. What regrets! Now they chase Chromebooks because those are eating up the low end that in fact Microsoft and Intel need now.

    You may beg to differ, but Intel made Atom a joke. Remember their annual updates? Wow, lower power consumption! And….a modest, paltry speed increase. They toyed with the market and karma is alive and well. However I’m sorry to hear how this is going to impact the work you’ve put into your site.

  27. Rachel Wang says:

    Hi Chippy, I am Rachel from Is it possible that you write a review for it? We can talk about the details. Could you please contact me at

  28. George says:

    You’re forgetting about AMD.

  29. CyberGusa says:

    How so? AMD doesn’t offer any modern x86 mobile SoCs, they gave up a few years ago and started adopting ARM solutions for anything really low powered… Their “K12” is a custom ARM solution for their server market offerings that should be out sometime next year…

  30. Sam says:

    AMD has a new joint venture with a mainland Chinese

  31. CyberGusa says:

    Sorry, but a licensing deal to allow a China company to use their x86 technology to make China market servers won’t be bringing AMD into the mobile SoC market… It’ll just help AMD stock as they make more money and perhaps weaken Intel’s position in the China server market…

  32. ???? says:


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  34. zengda says:


  35. Mr.Flying Zoom3rz says:

    I’m glad I buyed my Z8300 tablet before they disappear. Nothing better than a desktop pc with full windows on the go.

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