Some interesting rumours about Intel's long-range product roadmap for next-generation tablet and smartphone processors wound up on the web this week, courtesy of leaks published by DigiTimes.
In the immediate future, the chip giant plans to launch a 22-nanometer System-on-a-Chip (SoC) for smartphones, code named Merrifield, as part of its Atom product line before the end of this year. That much is public knowledge, but Intel will follow up Merrifield with another 22nm part built for smartphones called Moorfield "in the first half of 2014," according to the Taiwanese tech journal, which cited unnamed industry sources for its report.
Merrifield is supposed to provide a 50 per cent performance boost over Intel's current 32nm smartphone SoCs on the Clover Trail+ platform. Moorfield, if it does indeed exist, would likely offer the same performance gains, a reduced power draw, or some combination of the two, since it sounds like a variation of Merrifield.
Intel will then move to the 14nm process node for another smartphone SoC code named Morganfield, which will be released in the first quarter of 2015, DigiTimes reports.
On the tablet side of things, per the site, Intel is working on an SoC called Cherry Trail, a 14nm chip sporting "Airmont" CPU cores clocking at 2.7GHz and Gen8 integrated graphics, which is supposedly due out in the third quarter of next year. Another 14nm chip for tablets called Willow Trail pairs "Goldmont" cores with an Intel Gen9 GPU and supports both Windows and Android, according to DigiTimes, which pegged the fourth quarter of 2014 for its arrival.
These two products sound like they could be future "tick" extensions of Intel's forthcoming x86-64, 22nm Bay Trail-T tablet platform, which the company may be releasing as soon as next month in conjunction with the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco.
Rumours about the chips lined up for the Bay Trail-T launch have already emerged. Earlier this month, VR-Zone reported that the initial Bay Trail-T lineup will include the following quad-core, Atom-branded parts: the 1.8GHz Z3740, 1.8GHz Z3740D, 2.4GHz Z3770, and 2.4GHz Z3770D. The "D" designation indicates support for screen resolutions up to 1,920 x 1,200, while the parts without a "D" will be able to support screen resolutions up to 2,560 x 1,600, according to the site.
So what to make of this? First of all, it's worth noting that you should always take this sort of gossip with a big pinch of salt. What's more, in our experience, the closer to a product launch date a rumour is, the more likely it is to be accurate.
Intel naturally said that it doesn't comment on rumors and speculation when asked about this leak. But a source at the company specifically said to "be careful" about passing along the DigiTimes rumours — from what we gather, there's at least a couple of things off about the report.