Intel was initially absent from the market boom that was smartphones and tablets. The company has long been playing catch-up to ARM in terms of mobile market share, and its Atom line-up of processors simply hasn’t cut it, compared with the more energy efficient designs of its competitors.
However, more recently Intel has been making some waves, indicating that it’s keen to finally play its hand in the mobile market with its new line of Silvermont processors. We’ve also heard that a range of cheap, $200 Android powered netbooks will be heading our way at some point later this year. But exactly what sort of products is Intel planning to bring to the Android market?
Those familiar with what’s inside their desktop computers will probably have heard of the old Pentium and Celeron processor tags, the Pentium ranges making up the high end chips, whilst Celeron tends to be more budget-oriented. According to CNET, Intel’s new line-up of Silvermont processors will also be branded in these two categories, which for a start means that Pentium brand chips will be available for Android, and secondly, that their performance is now comparable with Intel’s current line-up of mainstream chips. This is a significant step up from the notoriously slow current range of Atom mobile processors which lag far behind their Pentium counterparts.
However, these names will most likely be reserved for more costly laptops parts. Future Intel tablets will probably just keep the Baytrail/Silvermont name.
This has a particularly interesting implication for Android, as it means that we could see a broad range of laptops made available, from budget to more performance orientated models. Also, what could this mean for the PC market? If Android is making the move into the laptop space, it’s surely likely that we’ll also see Android supported on traditional PC hardware as well.
Speaking of PC type hardware, high performance versions of Silvermont will also ship with common PC features like PCI expansion and SATA support, allowing for a greater range of supported hardware, such as sound cards or more powerful graphics processors.
Worryingly for Microsoft, this announcement sees Android poised to push Windows almost completely out of the mobile market. With a cheap price point and comparable hardware, I don’t see why consumers who are becoming increasingly familiar with Android, through smartphones and tablets, wouldn’t also make the switch over to Android on their laptops.