Published in PC Hardware

Intel announces Braswell, Bay Trail successor

by on03 April 2014

14nm fun for all form factors

Intel's Bay Trail is one of the more interesting parts to emerge from Chipzilla labs in recent years. Sure, we love big cores, but Haswell and Ivy Bridge did not offer nearly the same performance gains compared to their predecessors.

Bay Trail reinvented the Atom line-up, which was neglected by Intel for years. It also brought Windows 8.1 to new form factors, namely compact and affordable tablets. The company has now announced Braswell, the 14nm successor to Bay Trail-M and Bay Trail-D parts. Cherry Trail will replace Bay Trail in the tablet space.


Braswell targets loads of form factors


It appears that Intel has big plans for Braswell, as the 14nm SoC is supposed to be used in compact desktops, all-in-ones, 2-in-1s and of course notebooks. Intel is promising "amazing" form factors and "new users experiences."

In essence, Braswell will enable vendors to develop smaller, fanless PCs. Even Bay Trail is good at that game, since there are already a number of 10W desktop parts that ship on passive boards. The production process lead allows Intel to offer lower TDPs than AMD in this segment. AMD's GPU lead is still there, but most Jaguar-based products can't hit 10W. The latest socketed AM1 parts are still at 25W and the stock cooler is active. Last year Intel made it clear that 14nm Airmont-based products will feature Broadwell graphics, but by then AMD will bump up its SoC iGPUs as well.

There is still no launch date, though. Intel says it will spruce up Bay Trail later this year, with faster graphics and better overall performance. This leads us to conclude that Braswell parts will be announced somewhat later, possibly towards the end of the year, with availability in early 2015. The first 14nm tablet parts are expected to ship in late 2014.


Market opportunities for Braswell/Cherry Trail


Intel hopes to see 14nm SoCs in just about every conceivable market and form factor. It is going after cheap notebooks (which it no longer calls netbooks), Chromebooks, affordable 2-in-1s, entry lever AIOs and more.

Last year Intel said it plans to ship 40 million tablet parts this year, but these are Bay Trail-T parts. The next generation should do even better and from the looks of things, Intel will blur the lines between a number of form factors, maybe even platforms, thanks to dual-OS devices. Since Intel is hoping to quadruple its SoC shipments with Bay Trail, if it maintains its aggressive approach through 2015, shipments of 14nm SoC could easily surpass 100 million units next year, if not more.

Interestingly, Intel also demoed a 64-bit version of Android 4.4 KitKat at IDF Shenzen. It has a fresh 64-bit Kernel and it will boost development. It might also give Intel a competitive edge in some niches, although most Braswell designs will probably ship with Windows 8.x - although dual OS devices remain a possibility.

Last modified on 03 April 2014
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