Intel Oak Trail CPU Hitting Tablets in May, Cedar Trail Hopes to Save Netbooks

If there’s one thing that most of today’s tablets have in common, it’s that Intel is not inside. But the chip giant is hoping to change that–and take on the ARM army–with its new Atom Z670 processor (codenamed Oak Trail). The 45-nanometer, 1.5-GHz CPU will finally be hitting slates starting in May, and it promises to combine all-day battery life with smooth 1080p video playback and full Flash support.

Intel’s next act will be Cedar Trail, coming to a new breed of netbooks during the second half of the year. Get the full scoop on both chips below.

Intel says that it has lined up 35 design wins for Oak Trail from the likes of Lenovo, Fujitsu, and Motion Computing, as well as such lesser-known brands as Evolve III, Razer, and Viliv. The first wave of devices will be running Windows 7, which hasn’t proved itself to be a great OS for consumer tablets. However, Oak Trail supports Android and MeeGo, too. In fact, Evolve III is working on a device that boots into Windows, Android, and MeeGo. (Sounds awkward to us, but we’d still like to see it).

Based on the Windows-powered Oak Trail tablets we previewed at CES from Lenovo and Motion Computing, it looks as though the initial focus will be on productivity and vertical markets like retail and medical, which is a wise move. But the wild Razer Switchblade that was also shown off at CES has gamers in mind with its tiny clamshell design.

So what’s after Oak Trail? That would be Cedar Trail, a more efficient 32nm platform that will hit netbooks starting the second half of the year. It will pack a dedicated media engine for 1080p video playback, plus Intel Wireless Display and Wireless Music for streaming video and tunes to your home entertainment gear (via compatible adapters). Other technologies that could help give the netbook a fighting chance against tablets include PC Synch for easily syncing content to a primary PC and Fast Boot.

Although today’s netbooks aren’t exactly bulky, they do look bloated next to the iPad 2. So you might be happy to hear that the lower power consumption and TDP of this next-gen Atom chip will enable sleeker fanless designs with even stronger battery life. Intel couldn’t say whether Cedar Trail will be used in netbooks powered by Google’s Chrome OS, but we’re presuming it will be found inside Windows machines to start.

The underlying theme here is that Intel is trying to stay ahead of Moore’s Law, with the company promising to bring new products to market on three process technologies in the next three years. But first thing’s first. We’ll keep an eye out for Oak Trail-powered tablets and hope to bring you full reviews of those devices starting next month.

AUTHOR BIO
Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
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  1. Kenneth Porio Says:

    I feel that Intel Atom’s Cedar Trail platform will truly be going neck-to-neck with AMD Fusion’s Brazos platform. If ever Cedar Trail will certainly be integrating Intel GMA HD graphics used by the current Intel Core platforms, I hope that it will save a lot on battery power and portability in contrast with AMD fusing with its discrete Radeon graphics.

    I am optimistic of Intel saving the netbook market.

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