ARM-based chips like the Samsung Exynos, Nvidia Tegra, Qualcomm Snapdragon, and MediaTek MT are among the most commonly used Systems-on-a-chip (SoC) found on smartphones and tablets we all love. Apple also uses ARM-based chips for their iPhones and iPads. But, there are also a couple of handful devices now running on Intel-based SoCs.
Last week, we saw 2 local mobile players releasing their first Intel powered tablets – the Engage 9i tablet by Starmobile and the CloudPad 800w by CloudFone (Read our head-to-head comparison of these 2 tablets here). With these releases, a hype sparked, which got us thinking: Are Intel powered devices more exciting than devices running on ARM-based SoCs?
For starters, whenever new devices running on Intel-based chips like the Atom Z2580 Clovertrail+ gets announced, they are always marketed in example as “the first local tablet to sport an Intel processor” or “the first 9-incher with Intel inside.” Now these kind of marketing pay off well, as they build too much hype enough to make consumers check them out.
Currently, smartphones and tablets running on ARM-based chips are performing very well in terms of speed and performance. Manufacturers like Qualcomm has chips that has a maximum of 4 cores, while Samsung’s Exynos has up to 8 cores, as expected to be seen in the upcoming Galaxy S5 flagship. Locally, we also have the Starmobile Diamond X1, featuring MediaTek’s “true octa-core processor.” Intel Atom on the other hand only sports up to 2 cores.
Although Intel Atom chips – specifically the Atom Z2580 Clovertrail+, comes with the chip giant’s HyperThreading technology, the ARM-based Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 sports a higher clock speed, newer manufacturing process and has a slightly more L2 cache. In a GeekBench test by CPUboss.com, the Snapdragon 800 outperformed the Z2580 Clovertrail+, getting a score of 2,710 compared to Intel’s score of just 539. Clearly, this wouldn’t be the reason for the hype in favor of Intel devices.
Sales isn’t also the department for Intel based devices, as we see more of ARM-based devices almost everywhere. In fact, Lenovo’s Intel-powered K900 has a small user base in the Philippines. But maybe, this is where the hype for devices running on Intel-based SoCs. Since we don’t get to see or hear about Intel smartphones and tablets on a regular basis, it makes them unique and rare. In a geek’s world and also in the tech world in general, uniqueness, rarity and that feel of exclusivity makes devices and gadgets more exciting and more prized than those we see, hear about and get to experience regularly.
But of course, things are looking bright for Intel, as their CEO announced that they have new chips that are currently in the works, particularly the Bay Trail chip, aimed for the tablet market expected by the second quarter of the year, with a quad core option, featuring a 64-bit architecture in a 22nm process. There’s also the Cherry Trail mobile chip, reportedly slated for the second half of 2014, featuring a very impressive 14nm process, making Intel the very first company to produce a 14nm chip. If this pushes through, Intel’s Cherry Trail would be so hype worthy, it could give ARM developers a run for their money.
But until then, we are all hopeful for what Intel has in store for all of us, as whatever developments would Intel (and of course ARM) bring to the table, it is a sure win for us consumers. Who knows, mobile device makers might announce new handsets with Intel inside during the 2014 Barcelona Mobile World Congress happening in just a couple of weeks, so stay tuned!