Did Intel CEO Paul Otellini just confirm rumors of smaller Windows 8 tablets?
During Intel's first-quarter earnings conference call, company executives indicated that the price of Windows 8 touch devices including laptops will drop into the realm of Google's Nexus 7 and Amazon's Kindle Fire HD. These inexpensive designs will be based on Intel's upcoming quad-core "Bay Trail" 22-nm chip, the first complete redesign of the Atom micro architecture since it debuted in 2008.
"If you look at touch-enabled Intel-based notebooks that are ultrathin using [Bay Trail] processors, those prices are going to be down to as low as $200," said Intel CEO Paul Otellini.
Intel chief financial officer Stacy Smith added that Bay Trail will be a great product in the $200 segment of the market, and will enable "stunning" performance compared to what the competition – namely Qualcomm (Snapdragon), Nvidia (Tegra 4) and Samsung (Exynos) – can bring.
This $200 Windows 8 segment mentioned by Intel indicates that ODMs may be manufacturing Atom-based tablets ranging in 7-inches to 9-inches in size as well, backing up previous reports that the next Windows 8 release due later this year will accommodate for smaller screen sizes. Otellini's comment also indicates that Microsoft and Intel may be going after the low-end notebook market currently dominated by Google's Chromebook.
Intel's new Bay Trail chip is expected to appear in products for the 2013 holiday season. It will supposedly double the computing performance of the company's current chip used in tablets, and will allow designs as thin as 0.8-inches that will have all-day battery life and weeks of standby.
Tan Weng Kuan, vice president and general manager of the Mobile Communications Group, Intel China, said earlier this month at IDF Beijing that Bay Trail will pack four redesigned Atom processor cores that will bring the SoC closer to mainstream Intel processors in sheer performance. Some of that power stems from Intel HD 4000 graphics and an out of order design like the current Core processors, he said.
In addition to talking about the Bay Trail chip during the first-quarter earnings conference call on Tuesday, Otellini predicted that more standard Ultrabook designs sporting the upcoming Haswell chip will likely reside within the $499 price range. That's likely without touch screens, but still good news for Windows 8 nonetheless.