The 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?
There wasn’t a huge amount of ultramobile PC content for us at the Intel Developer Forum this week. IoT, robots and wearables were taking the limelight along with gaming, big data and, for the first time, cyber security. A breakthrough in storage technology could reach ultrabooks in 2016/2017 but before that happens there’s Skylake, the 6th-generation Core processor that will end up inside Ultrabooks and high-end 2-in-1 PCs, probably including Surface Pro 4. Intel didn’t reveal many details on stage but they’ve published a set of PDFs that we’ve already dissected. Skylake is the latest brand name to hit the ultramobile PC space but where does it fit into the big mix of ultramobile processors that Intel has? In one of the IDF sessions Intel presented a very detailed comparison of all the mobile CPUs, and that’s exactly what we’re going to take a look at in this article. Sit back and enjoy a tour through the complete range of processor, graphics, media, storage and memory technology capabilities that are on offer to ultramobile PC manufacturers.
This report may be updated with more Skylake information as information is released.
Going into this review I had a very clear idea of what it was that I wanted out of the Yoga. I wanted something with great battery life, lightweight, moderate computing power and good “lapability”. I hate that word but it does cover that attribute quite well. Those of you who have read my first impressions will know that I was pretty chuffed with the device from the get go. Now a week later have things changed or am I am still in the honeymoon period? Read on to find out more.
Intel is ready to take the lid off of Clover Trail, the newest member of the company’s Atom low-power processors. Along with Clover Trail info comes official announcements from seven Intel partners showing off hybrid Windows 8 devices that will soon be available. Intel is promising three weeks of ‘connected standby’ and up to 10 hours of HD video playback possible from Clover Trail devices.
I really liked the look of the HP Env X2 I tested at IDF 2012. The size and weight proportions are more conducive to mobile operations than some of the Core-based solutions and in addition, there’s a battery life advantage to be had over Core but it’s not quite up to replacing a desktop for most people so there’s a big trade-off. The ASUS Vivo Tab is the same, but looks even better!
I got hands-on at IDF and you can see that in the video below. I walked away very impressed and definitely interested in testing it further, especially as I’m a huge fan of ultra-mobile solutions.
I hadn’t intended to write about Atom-based devices while at IDF this week but the HP Envy X2 caught my eye in a very good way and after a hands-on I came away thinking how far Atom has come and how this device represents something for those wanting the full flexibility of a modular PC and a focus on battery life.
At a Intel press event, still going on as I write, Intel has just announced that Z2580 that we tipped earlier today. It’s a dual-core version of the current Intel smartphone platform which is capable of running Android x86 and other x86 software.
…the Atom™ Z2580 processor that doubles the performance of the Atom processor Z2460, and features an advanced multimode LTE/3G/2G solution. Intel will sample the Z2580 in the second half of the year with customer products scheduled in the first half of 2013.
In addition to the Z2500 series, there’s now a new Z2000 series at 1Ghz aimed at a lower-cost segment.
Addressing the growing handset opportunity in emerging markets where consumers look for more value at lower prices, Intel disclosed plans for the Intel® Atom™ processor Z2000.
The Z2000 is aimed squarely at the value smartphone market segment, which industry sources predict could reach up to 500 million units by 20151. The platform includes a 1.0 GHz Atom CPU offering great graphics and video performance, and the ability to access the Web and play Google Android* games. It also supports the Intel® XMM 6265 3G HSPA+ modem with Dual-SIM 2G/3G, offering flexibility on data/voice calling plans to save on costs. Intel will sample the Z2000 in mid-2012 with customer products scheduled by early 2013.
Also announced was news that Medfield will now be enabled to 2Ghz.
“Extending the leading performance and energy efficiency of the Intel™ Atom® processor Z2460, formerly codenamed “Medfield,” Intel announced that the platform will now support speeds up to 2GHz.”
More details if we get them in the press conference that continues…..
Linpus, a company that has been working on Linux distributions for netbooks for a number of years under their ‘Linpus Lite’ brand have been invited to MWC to demonstrate their current offering in the MeeGo and Qt booths. The solution is targeted at manufacturers of netbooks and tablets based on MeeGo. Like MeeGo, the Linpus solution will be a ‘base’ on which to build on through contractual work by Linpus. We’ve seen a tablet UI before but this is more than that.
Unfortunately, the target device, a Lenovo S10-3T is out of the studio right now so I couldn’t get everything up and working well enough for a full video demo but I did boot it on the Tegatech Tega V2 tablet where I was able to test the UI and apps, a key part of the Linpus solution.
Note that this is a presentation suite rather than a full, polished OS but it gives you an idea of the sort of work the OS distributors (aka Operating Systems Vendors, OSVs) are prepared to put in with MeeGo. You’ll see an on-screen keyboard, an active desktop and a glimpse of the applications that Linpus have developed for the solution. It’s far from customer-ready but it’s worlds apart from what you’ve seen on MeeGo builds so far.
The video below is also available in 480p resolution.
I don’t have Honeycomb here and I don’t have the latest Atom platform here but in the video below I do have two devices that show the browsing speed differences between Tegra 2 and Atom. The Toshiba AC100 running the ‘old’ Android 2.1 build and the Gigabyte Touchnote running an ‘old’ Atom N270 are both mainstream builds and it’s worth taking a look at how the browsing speed compares.
My estimate, following these tests, is that Android/Tegra is just one iteration (either software or hardware) away from matching what a netbook can provide. And remember, we’re into the sub 10 second category here where 10% or 20% difference is not worth talking about. 1 second isn’t much, really.
Did I miss something? Perhaps we should be running 10 tabs and Flash, that’s true. The ‘built-for-multitasking’ X86 and Windows platform should pull ahead but consider this performance on a 7 inch screen where multitasking gets hidden by the one-pane user interface.
My final thought here is that ARM platforms are not only progressing as fast as the X86 platforms but also get a huge advantage from the massive, massive investment going into mobile software. Right now, the leading browser engines are on X86 but expect that to flip over in 2011 or 2012.
While ARM and Android is allowing designers to move mobile computing products into the personal computing space, Intel and Android are going in the other direction.
We’ve seen Android on X86 before and it doesn’t really impress when it’s on a standard PC platform with no always-on, GPS, 3G and market but when it’s shown on Moorestown, as it was last year at MWC, it’s another matter, especially when it’s Intel’s official build of Froyo for the Moorestown platform. Here it is again in the Gemtek Zeus home tablet with an updated user interface. We weren’t able to get the full specs or even play around with this home phone/automation tablet but we did happen to bump into the product manager while we were filming. He says that the product is due in Q2 and after we had finished filming, revealed that they are also working on a MeeGo 1.2 product for later in the year.
I’m surprised that Intel have been allowed to announce partner names but in a presentation at the Barclays Capital 2010 Global Technology Conference, Paul Otellini has done just that and highlighted that Windows, MeeGo and Android will be on Atom next year.
The report comes via CNet who tracked the live audio from the conference and picked up that the Android builds will be both Froyo and Gingerbread. He also highlighted that Oaktrail is the Windows-compatible version of the new platform and Moorestown optimised even further and supporting only MeeGo and Android. That much we knew already. We also know from previous information that smartphones on Moorestown are taking longer than planned. Behind the scenes, I’m getting the feeling that Moorestown won’t be used for phones and that the focus is now on Medfield, due in late 2011. Note also that the Android build is behind MeeGo. That’s information that we were given at IDF in Sept 2010 and it means that those devices could be planned for the second half.
Slightly disappointing is that the slide shows only Tablets and that the bulk of these are Windows. Some of those won’t even be on the mobile platform because the netbook platform is going to feature. Focus should really be on unique designs such as smart-books, social netbooks and how about a bit of keyboard love? Continuing use of Windows with its lack of ‘always-on’ and business focus is just going to end up with devices that get bad reviews.
Highlight for me is Dell using Android. This will be on Moorestown and could be their 10 inch offering. If so, that’s a great win for Intel.
The good news here is that Moorestown is ready. I heard only last week that it’s been in production for months now. It only needs the OS to be completed and we’re away with a new always-on option and the first X86 platform that doesn’t support a Microsoft OS! I just hope that those MeeGo devices are going to be ground-breaking otherwise Nokia will NOT be happy!