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Intel Atom Z3770 ‘Bay Trail’ preview: Strong competition for ARM

In addition to the other processor announcements this week, Intel has unveiled its latest generation Atom processors (opens in new tab) at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. The Atom Z3000 'Bay Trail' CPUs are supposed to give ARM processors a run for their money, in terms of performance and energy-efficiency.

We tested prototype Windows 8.1 and Android 4.2 tablets with the new Atom Z3770 and compared the performance to the current Atom platform and recent ARM chips such as the Nvidia Tegra 4. Will 2014 be the year Intel makes real headway in the tablet market?

Intel has been boasting for years now that it was about to take the smartphone and tablet markets by storm (opens in new tab). The reality has been different, however. Compared to ARM chips, Intel's Atom processors initially used too much power. Not only that, the mobile operating systems were not compatible with Intel's x86 architecture.

Over the past year, however, things have started to look up for Intel. It became clear that the x86 version of Google's Android OS ran just as stable and fast as the original ARM version. At the end of 2012 a new OS for mobile devices saw the light of day: Windows 8 (opens in new tab). However, since the ARM-based Windows RT version does not support legacy software, many people instead opted for an Intel-based tablet.

Then some hardware developments also moved Intel in the right direction. At last year's IDF, Intel announced it was ramping up the development of its Atom processors and would take full advantage of its in-house state-of-the-art production facilities. In the past Atom has lagged one or two steps behind the Core processors in terms of manufacturing process, and that gap would have to be closed. Faster than expected, Intel last year introduced a 32nm Atom series, and from now on, each year is supposed to see the release of a new generation using increasingly smaller transistors. You can read the rest of Intel Atom Z3770 'Bay Trail' preview on (opens in new tab).