Blurring the platform lines, Could Intel’s ‘Bay Trail’ Atom chip be a game changer

20.11.2013 Fabian Rendon

There used to be a time where you had very distinct categories of hardware and devices that you could purchase. There were desktop PCs, notebooks, phones and tablets: clean-cut and simple. Nowadays, the various markets are amalgamating, resulting in a range of new, hybrid platforms that you are now asked to choose between: things like ‘phablets’ (semi-tablets, semi-smartphones), convertibles (a laptop-to-tablet kind of a transformer device), ultraportables etc. The market keeps diversifying further before we even had the chance to fully understand and appreciate all of the different choices presented to us. And if we are to judge by the new chipset from Intel, it seems that things are about to get more hectic before they (if ever) start slowing down.

Whichever device you end up purchasing, you are still bound by its operating system: you are still buying a Windows PC, an Android smartphone, or an iOS-based device. But Intel is looking to change all that with its new Atom chip called Bay Trail, which reportedly supports Windows and Android at the same time, meaning that the hardware manufacturers are now going to be able to develop devices which will run on either, or both operating systems. What could be even more exciting is the purported price tag: if we are to believe the rumors, the new Intel processor is going to power Android and Windows machines starting as low as two hundred dollars.

Bay Trail is the latest generation of Intel chips, following in the footsteps of its predecessor, a sophisticated chipset called Clover Trail. Primarily marketed to convertible devices that run on Windows, Clover Trail sported a lengthy battery life despite low power consumption, but it received less-than-stellar reviews regarding its performance capabilities. Now, based on a brand new, so-called ‘Silvermont’ chip architecture, Intel swears Bay Trail is going to be two and a half times more powerful than Clover Trail, while quadrupling power reduction of the previous chipset.

When it comes to PCs, Bay Trail is undoubtedly going to become the manufacturers’ number one choice soon enough, due to limited competition. However, the tablet market is a whole different kind of battlefield, one where companies like Nvidia and Qualcomm have already asserted their dominance. Intel has yet to remain relevant in the tablet game, but with these kinds of new features, it might just catch that break it’s been waiting for.

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