With Windows 8 coming for both ARM and X86 platforms in the shape of Windows 8 RT and the regular edition, a major question on many peoples’ minds right now is which architecture they want to go for.
However, Android is also compatible with Intel’s X86 Atom chips – we’ve even reviewed a netbook running Google’s OS, the Acer Aspire D255.
Not only that, but the emergence of a Windows 8 that’s friendlier than ever before to ‘low power’ systems will put Atom squarely in the lime-light, as lots of folks want the massive software library and backwards compatibility that X86 Windows on a compatible system supplies, all wrapped in a nice slate form factor.
The problem, as any techie enthusiast will be able to tell you, is that Atom processors aren’t exactly known for delivering smooth performance. Thankfully, a leaked Intel roadmap reveals that this concern may soon be ancient history.
‘Bay Tail’, the sequel to the current Clover Field, will bring a host of improvements, not least of which is that it’s finally taking the top-end of Intel’s ultra-mobile solution to four cores. At 22nm and with speeds topping out at 2.4GHz on the quad-core Bay Trail Atom, things are looking mighty spicy indeed, and there’s the consumer perception benefit of having a ‘quad core’ part to match the likes of Tegra 3 too.
Perhaps the biggest improvement will be in the graphics department. The HD 4000 employed by the top-end Atoms is the same chip found on your average ‘Ivy Bridge’ laptop such as the Toshiba Portege Z930, meaning we might finally see an Intel Atom generation that will let you get your game on (a little).
It might not play Crysis 2, but even the likes of Call of Duty 4 at medium detail would be pretty awesome on an X86 slate/tablet/convertible.
Nor does the goodness end with pure performance. Bay Trail also includes native support for USB 3.0 and SATA 2.0, while allowing up to 8GB of DDR3 RAM. That’s a lot of potential, though it does make us look at the brand-new Clover Trail chips that are currently on the cusp of the market like last week’s mouldy leftovers (not, of course, that we would ever keep leftovers long enough to let them turn into organic processors).