Intel used IDF 2013 to showcase a number of interesting products and technologies, but Bay Trail stands out as one of the biggest announcements coming from Chipzilla this year.
Bay Trail-T is now officially out and this tiny SoC is designed with tablets and convertibles in mind. Intel says consumers will be able to pick up the first products based on Z3000-series chips sometime in the fourth quarter. Acer, Asus, Dell, Lenovo and Toshiba are already on board, which is not really news as some of their products were showcased at IDF.
Intel appears to be pricing its first proper tablet SoC quite aggressively. For example, the Asus Transformer Book T100, which was announced two weeks ago, starts at just $349 with 32GB of storage and 2GB of RAM – yet it packs a quad-core Z3470 processor. Moreover, Intel said its ultimate goal is to come up with Windows 8.1 tablets priced at just $99, although that probably won’t happen anytime soon (think $599 Ultrabooks).
Bay Trail-T is Intel’s first crack at the tablet market and early benchmarks indicate that it has what it takes to compete with ARM SoCs. The unit price is what counts in this segment, every penny in this high-volume market translates into tens of millions at the end of the day. Companies don’t announce the pricing of their top ARM SoCs, but analysts usually put the price of flagship chips like the Exynos 5 Octa, Snapdragon 800 and Tegra 4 in the $22 to $28 range.
Intel’s 22nm Z3740 is priced at $32, while the 1.46GHz Z3770 goes for $37. While this isn't on a par with flagship ARM SoCs, the prices are very close.
This is a rather worrying trend for the ARM crowd. With each new generation Intel gets closer, not only in watts and die size, but more importantly in dollars. Silvermont probably won’t get there, although it is already getting dangerously close, but 14nm Airmont products could pose a serious threat to ARM parts in late 2014.
The first generation of 20nm ARM chips will be A15-based, although there will be quite a few custom parts, and these parts should have no trouble competing with Bay Trail, but once Intel moves to 14nm all bets are off.