Next Galaxy Tab May Roll In With Intel’s Clover

Samsung’s rumored selection of Intel’s Clover Trail+ mobile system on a chip (SoC) for at least one version of its upcoming Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 was given fresh strength by a Reuters report last week.

The rumor had been floating around for weeks, fueled by the publication online of 3D graphics bench test results of a Samsung “Santos 103” tablet running Android 4.2.2. The GFXBench test, conducted by Hungarian firm Kishonti, indicated the tablet used a Clover Train processor.

Samsung apparently will use a dual-core 1.6 GHz Clover Trail+ SoC.

If the reports are true, the deal will be a huge win for Intel because “Samsung is this decade’s Apple,” Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told the E-Commerce Times. “What they do will be seen by other vendors and should open the market further for Intel.”

Such a deal would fit into the plans of new Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, who has reorganized the chip maker and created a unit focused on growing its share of the mobile technology market, the so-called “new devices” group.

On the other hand, “why would Samsung go with an Intel dual-core processor when everybody’s going quad-core and they can go with a quad-core processor from Nvidia or even their own processor?” asked Julien Blin, a directing analyst at Infonetics.

About the Clover Trail+

Intel offers three versions of the Clover Trail+, part of its x86-based Atom line of low-power processors designed for mobile devices. All three use hyperthreading technology and use the Saltwell 32 nm second-generation Atom processor CPU architecture that came out in 2009.

One is the Z2520, a 1.2 GHz dual-core SoC; the second is the Z2560, a 1.6 GHz dual-core SoC; and the third is the Z2580, a 2 GHz dual-core Saltwell.

Clover Trail + is based on Medfield, the original 32 nm Atom SoC for smartphones. Intel added a second CPU core to the Medfield and jacked up its GPU performance.

Clover Trail+ is not the same as Clover Trail, which is a 32 nm platform for Windows 8 tablets.

The Clover Trail SoC beats ARM-based processors at executing CPU-intensive tasks, but loses out to them in graphics processing, a failing that the Clover Trail+ redresses.

Intel has longstanding partnerships with Samsung and with Google, which agreed to run Android on Intel’s processors, and it’s not clear whether the deal with Samsung over Clover Trail+ might be an extension of both partnerships.

Why Clover Trail+?

Clover Trail+ can run both Windows 8 and Android. This, and probably some financial incentives from Intel, might have spurred Samsung to adopt the Clover Trail+ for the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1, Enderle speculated.

It’s not likely that Samsung would offer a tablet preloaded with both Windows 8 and Android, because “I don’t see people switching between Windows and Android, which are completely different user experiences,” Blin told the E-Commerce Times. Further, consumers might prefer a quad-core tablet to a dual-core one.

Taking on the iPad

Intel might help market a Galaxy Tab using its Clover Trail+, and that “should make it more visible and attractive to new tablet buyers,” Enderle speculated.

Further, such a tablet “might force Apple to reconsider the use of ARM on their own tablets and phones, given how embattled they are,” he suggested.

Rumors surfaced earlier this month that Intel and Apple had discussed the possibility of Apple turning to Intel to manufacture its chips instead of Samsung, but both companies declined comment on the issue at the time.

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