May 20, 2013, 9:17 AM — It's long been a sore spot for Intel. Despite years of trying and talk of design wins and OEM engagement, getting a major OEM deal for its Atom processors has always been just out of reach for the firm. The failure of Atom to compete against the ARM processor design is rumored to be the reason former CEO Paul Otellini is enjoying his first week of retirement as you read this.
Well, this will make Paul choke on his coffee. Rumor is that Samsung is going to adopt an Atom processor for the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1. The rumor appeared over the weekend on Android Authority and came from people running benchmarking utilities on test tablets, which exposed the chip being used.
According to the site, the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 will come with a 10.1-inch display with 1280 x 800 resolution, a 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z2560 processor (dual-core with HyperThreading), a 400MHz PowerVR SGX 544 MP2 GPU and Android 4.2.2.
The Intel Atom Z2560 is part of the Clover Trail+ family of mobile chips. Another chip from that line can be found in the Lenovo K900, a 5.5" Android phone and on sale only in China, for now. There's quite a bit of buzz about that phone and a lot of people are hoping it gets a Stateside release.
This would be a major win for Intel in more ways than one. First, Samsung is as big a get as you can hope for, short of Apple, as the Android world is so dominated by Samsung these days that it might as well be known as the Samsung market.
But also, let's not underestimate the power of herd mentality. If Samsung picks an Atom processor for its tablet, the dominos will start to fall like mad as the second-tier players line up, figuring if it's good enough for Samsung it's good enough for them.
The Atom has long battled the reputation of being not very power-friendly compared to the ARM, which was born in the embedded world and has many more years of experience. But no one can out-engineer Intel, as AMD has learned, and successive generations of the Atom have dropped power consumption significantly without sacrificing performance.
Last December and January, AnandTech pretty much blasted the notion of ARM being better on power consumption right out of the water. It clearly beat Nvidia Tegra 3 and matched the Qualcomm Krait for power and beat it on performance.
So now it's a waiting game to see if the Tab 3 10.1 really does have Intel inside. If that happens, get ready for a game changer.