Intel Declares War on ARM in Tablets

– Tablets below $200 with Intel’s Bay Trail Processors This Year

– Coming Sooner & at Lower Prices than Expected

– Will Bay Trail Help Microsoft Successfully Take on Apple’s iPad?

Tablets with Intel’s upcoming Bay Trail T processors will be available this year at prices below $200, according to Intel CEO Brian Krzanich.

It’s probable that the under-$200 Bay Trail tablets will use Android, not Windows, because the Windows OS costs more than the “free” Android OS and because Window requires much more memory than Android. It’s also probable that the sub-$200 tablets will be minis with smaller, lower resolution and less expensive displays. But, then again, maybe not!

If the Bay Trail processor can help get full-screen Windows tablets below $400, it will be a gigantic boost for Intel, Microsoft and their PC makers in their battle against Apple’s iPad.

Brian Krzanich CEO Intel

Brian Krzanich

Krzanich said, “We believe that [Bay Trail] really allows us to get into markets that we are not in today in a big way — the sub-$400, sub-$300 in some cases, clamshells and touch-enabled convertibles and two-in-one devices. In tablets, $199 and below. Some you are going to see even lower, below $150 and much below that as we go through the holiday season.

“So Bay Trail really first and foremost, we believe, gives solid performance, solid battery life relative to the competition in price points and markets that we’re simply not in today, in a big way.”

He also said Intel will put equal corporate emphasis on its processors for PCs and on the upcoming Bay Trail line of processors for tablets and smartphones. That’s a bold strategy for a company that currently has 60% of its profits coming as a result of its long-time dominance in processors for PCs. It also indicates that Intel is betting that its Bay Trail processors can gain a lot of market share against ARM-based processors that are made by companies such as Samsung, Qualcomm, Nvidia and Texas Instruments.

As The Online Reporter has reported, unofficial benchmarks conducted with Android tablets show that Intel’s Bay Trail tablet processor handily out-performed a comparable ARM processor in a side-by-side comparison. We are also quite sure that a number of Bay Trail tablets will be in stores by mid-October, probably including a Microsoft Surface Pro tablet that runs the upcoming version of Windows 8 — the one with the Start button added back. Price, footprint and usage between battery charges are as important as processing power, especially in tablets. Those we don’t yet know about but Intel and Microsoft’s tablet makers do so that information will start leaking out very soon.

Krzanich was responding to a question during the company’s press and analyst call regarding the company’s second quarter performance. An analyst asked whether the less-expensive Bay Trail processors might “cannibalize” sales of its pricier new Haswell multi-core processors for PCs. For example, PC makers might start using Bay Trail processors in portable PCs rather than Haswell processors because Bay Trail processors cost less, use less power and allow for longer use between battery charges. In effect the analyst was asking whether Intel is prepared to cannibalize sales of its PC processors or allow ARM-based processors to do it.

Krzanich answered, “Our view right now on Bay Trail is that we don’t believe it will be cannibalistic in that nature… So we look at it mostly as an expansive.

“The other thing that I think is a point is Haswell [the PC processor that Intel launched in June], as we said, is the largest battery-life improvement in Intel’s history along with great performance. And it’s providing products that have Core-level performance that will be fan-less for the first time. So we still believe that there is a strong drive for performance in segments of this market that look for high-def video performance, gaming, all of the things that if you actually look at a lot of the tablet usage, even, people are doing more and more and definitely in these two-in-one and convertible devices, people look for that kind of application. So we believe that Haswell allowing us to go down into those better price points and lower power usage, will give us the performance option to keep people up into those regions.”

Intel says its Haswell flagship PC processors will lead to new form factors for notebook computers and tablets that can quickly and easily switch from a laptop’s clamshell mode to tablet mode. Smith said more than 50 of such “two-in-one” models are being developed by PC makers.

If devices with the “two-in-one” design are successful, it’ll be interesting to see what Apple does. Apple has two operating systems — iOS for its touchscreen tablets and smart phones and Mountain Lion for PCs that are operated with a mouse and keyboard. That gives Apple advantages in maximizing the software for each but could become a problem if Microsoft can make a “one-operating-system-fits-all” successful, which is what it is trying to do with the so-far not so successful Windows 8.

May Be in Stores by Mid-October

Intel executives in a position to know expect Windows tablets with its Bay Trail T processors to be on store shelves in mid-October, soon after Microsoft launches the next version of Windows 8 — Windows 8.1 or whatever Microsoft calls it. That’s just in time for the holiday shopping season. They are very optimistic about the price performance of the newest Intel Atom processor that’s intended for tablets — the Bay Trail T, which we reported on last week in “Bye-Bye Windows Surface RT!”

It’s not yet known what impact Bay Trail T tablets will have …

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