Intel to subsidise Baytrail-based tablet computers to encourage adoption

By Graeme Burton
20 Jan 2014 View Comments
Lenovo Miix2 with Windows 8.1 and Intel Bay Trail

Semiconductor giant Intel will subsidise forthcoming Baytrail-based tablet computers as it looks to elbow its way into the mobile device market.

Baytrail is the code-name for the latest generation of Atom microprocessors for mobile devices, in which Intel has trailed to rivals based on the ARM architecture.

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In a meeting in November, according to reports, executives were told that the division would be plunged into loss as it sought to buy its way into the market with $99 tablet computers based on Baytrail.

Android tablets running on ARM designs - typically microprocessors based on ARM designed by one of China's growing number of semiconductor manufacturers - start at less than £40.

The subsidy is required to offset the "non-recurring engineering costs" of shifting design teams to the platform compared to the ARM architecture that most mobile developers are familiar with. Baytrail-based devices will start appearing this year and the majority of them will carry a subsidy from Intel.

While Baytrail parts are relatively cheap compared to standard PC microprocessors from Intel, they are still markedly more expensive than ARM parts produced by Qualcomm, Nvidia, MediaTek and other manufacturers.

So far, though, there is little news from Intel over whether it has managed to persuade any big name producers to make Intel-based tablet computers. Companies such as Apple and Samsung benefit not just from using ARM-based devices in their own devices, but build bespoke systems around ARM intellectual property and, in Samsung's case, also produce the parts.

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