Intel: 'Atom Everywhere' will keep competitors at bay

By integrating its embedded microprocessor into plethora of form factors, Intel believes its competitors won't be able to replicate similar compute "experience", says company exec.

TAIPEI--Intel's move to open up its Atom family of microprocessors to a wide spectrum of form factors will make it hard for its competitors to replicate such computing "experience", according to a senior Intel executive.

Shmuel Eden, vice president and general manager of Intel Architecture Group's PC client group, noted that while competition is good and healthy for the industry, the company's "compute continuum"--which refers to its range of products from servers to smartphones and other handheld devices--provides users a unique synergy that helps differentiate Intel from the rest of the market.

"What you're going to get from client devices, for example, within such a continuum in the future is that data stored within a laptop can be seamlessly transferred to a nearby desktop PC with similar x86 architecture," Eden told ZDNet Asia after his keynote presentation here Tuesday at Computex 2010.

He expressed hopes that with the direction the company is now taking, it will no longer be viewed simply as a chipmaker, but as a computing powerhouse in its own right.

"We don't just build microprocessors anymore but also provide software and services up the stack," he said. "In fact, a sizable portion of our employees are computing experts today."

Intel aims Atom beyond netbooks
At the conference here, Intel also announced various new Atom chips and its use models in a bid to extend the processor's presence beyond its current primary in netbook devices.

According to Eden, the company is now targeting popular device categories including tablets and consumer electronics. Its collaboration with Google and Sony on the Google TV project is one example of how Intel is using its Atom line of solutions to branch out to other market segments, he said.

The Intel executive added that the company is "definitely playing in the tablet field" but was unable to predict exactly what type of tablet--whether it is one similar to Apple's touchscreen iPad slate or one that supports both touchscreen and keypad--will succeed in the market.

David Perlmutter, executive vice president and general manager of Intel Architecture Group, also revealed that the Atom chip will be powering media signages and in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) devices.

Perlmutter, who delivered a separate keynote presentation here Tuesday, said media signages are moving from "static, paper-based" delivery to rich-media, digital content and Intel is looking to support the shift with its latest chips.

He noted that instead of being "cannabalized" by the emerging tablet segment, netbooks are not on a decline. In fact, he said the device is the "fastest ramping device segment" in the past few years, above popular devices such as Research in Motion's BlackBerry smartphone and Apple's iPod media player.

Perlmutter added that with new Atom chips being introduced such as Intel's "Pine Trail" mobile dual-core processor and "Oak Trail" processors optimized for sleek netbook form factors, the company is looking to bring the device segment up a notch to "netbook 2.0".

Pine Trail chips are expected to be baked and on shelves by "the winter holiday shopping season" later this year, according to the company, while Oak Trail will be made available from early-2011. The former promises to deliver greater battery life and a more responsive user experience, while the latter will offer full high-definition video playback and up to 50 percent reduction in average power consumption, Eden added.

Kevin Kwang of ZDNet Asia reported from Computex 2010 in Taipei, Taiwan.