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Rumor: Intel’s 2016 Tablet SoC Roadmap Detailed

November 27, 2015 - Written By David Steele

The Intel Atom range of processors has been used for both smartphones and tablets for a number of years now. Intel have had some success with smartphones, but have enjoyed success in tablets originally thanks to aggressive pricing and support for manufacturers such as redesigning hardware to accommodate the Intel Atom x86 processor rather than the ARM competition. Intel’s tablet chipsets have continued to sell into the market despite the business removing subsidies and the Atom range has been revised, removing the old and confusing model designations with a simpler structure showing the Atom X3, X5 and X7 range. The current X3 is an ARM-based entry level chipset, which is seen as having a bias towards the Android operating system. The the X5 and X7 being progressively more powerful and premium, and as they are based around x86 architecture, are seen as better chipsets for devices running Windows 10 – although Android runs well on x86 hardware.

Intel is expected to remain a key component supplier in 2016, especially for the large tablet market, which is being revitalized by the hybrid or two-in-one market. Worldwide demand is estimated as being between 160 to 170 million for 2016, so Intel have much to play for. ASUS’ Chief Executive Officer, Jerry Shen, expects that his business will ship over 30 million tablets in 2016 and he also expects Intel to provide most of the chipsets in these devices.

We have today seen a report citing industry contacts in Taiwan showing Intel’s roadmap for 2016’s tablet chipsets. Interestingly enough, Intel appear set to release updated versions of the Atom X3, X5 and X7, and also introduce the Core m5 and Core m7. However, these chipsets will be released at different times, with the newer generation, entry level Atom X3 set to be out by the first quarter 2016, one year after the original Atom X3 was released. It’s not clear if the new generation X3 will be x86, x64 or ARM based, but the report details that it will be built on a 28nm process size. The Atom X5 and X7 are designated for mainstream and high end models respectively, will be built on a 14nm process size. There is no confirmation of the architecture type of the X5 and X7 and both chipset models are due out in the second quarter. Finally, the Core m5 and m7 System-on-Chipsets are designated for “deluxe models” and are due out in the fourth quarter. The Core chipset will also be built on a 14nm process size.