To make it easier for consumers to understand the different performance levels of its mobile and tablet processors, Intel is splitting its Atom brand into three lines.
Starting with the next generation Atom Cherry Trail – we’re currently on Bay Trail – Atom CPUs will be classified as the Atom x3, Atom x5, and Atom x7, rather than the confusing number scheme used today.
Under the new classification, the higher the number, the more performance of the Atom processor. Intel’s Atom chips are designed for lower power consumption while delivering performance to compete against chipsets based on architecture from ARM. As such, Atom is designed for phones, phablets and tablets.
Intel doesn’t mention that the x3, x5, and x7 Atom processors will be headed to netbooks, low cost laptops, and Chromebooks in its infographics.
Intel claims the Atom x3 will offer basic performance with an x86 architecture. The x5 offers “more capabilities and features for people who want an even better experience,” while the Atom x7 is the flagship chip in the line.
Intel Core series
For those who want higher performance, Intel offers Core m and Core i processor series for convertibles, hybrids, laptops and Ultrabooks. Both Intel Core series offer more performance than the Atom chipset, but come at an increased cost.
The Core m processor combines the benefits of longer battery life and a fanless design from the Atom series with the increased performance from the Core i series. We reviewed the Dell Venue 11 Pro 7000 series with a Broadwell-based Core m processor and appreciated the lighter, thinner fanless design, longer battery life than the Core i5 model of the same tablet, and performance that almost matches the Core i5.
The Core i series will offer the best performance, but those chipsets are designed for premium notebooks and Ultrabooks.
Cherry Trail is Intel’s newest processor design for Atom. Earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show, Intel announced devices running on Cherry Trail Atom processors will arrive within the year. With Cherry Trail, Intel is shrinking its processor architecture from 22nm to just 14nm, offering better efficiency in battery life and better performance.
Cherry Trail is based on the x86 architecture and is designed to work with both Windows and Android. Cherry Trail, like the Atom Bay Trail that it succeeds, will be able to run the full versions of Microsoft’s Windows operating system rather than the more limited Windows RT that ARM processors are confined to. This means that tablets will be able to run Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 on Cherry Trail.
With the release of Cherry Trail, Intel will be boosting the graphics performance. The company claims that with Atom Cherry Trail, users will have desktop-grade graphics power on mobiles and tablets. This will allow Cherry Trail to handle casual gaming and more graphics intensive tasks better.
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