The first Intel (NASDAQ: INTC ) Bay Trail benchmarks are out, and it's looking like the ARM Holdings (NASDAQ: ARMH ) competition should be a little concerned. Bay Trail is Intel's upcoming Atom processor that will eventually make its way into a slew of premium smartphones and tablets later this year.
According to data from an AnTuTu Benchmark, which measures the performance of Google Android devices, a quad-core 1.1 GHz Bay Trail-T tablet processor outperformed the fastest ARM competitor, a 2.3 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, by 44%. Also, the Bay Trail-T's benchmark was performed at about half its expected clock speed of 2.1 GHz, implying that a fully clocked Bay Trail-T processor would absolutely smoke the fastest ARM competitor.
Pack your bags
If Bay Trail's numbers prove to be indicative of real-world performance, there is little, if any incentive for Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) to keep supporting Windows RT. Windows RT has been responsible for mass consumer confusion, and it lacks the backwards-compatibility with legacy Windows applications since it runs on ARM architecture. If Intel's products can outperform ARM and match its power consumption, Microsoft would effectively have the green light to eliminate Windows RT altogether. This would allow Microsoft to further streamline the Windows 8 user experience and could potentially translate into improved reception. Unfortunately, from ARM's perspective, the Windows on ARM opportunity may be gone before it's arrived.
The bigger picture
Not only will Intel be making a splash on the Windows side of things, it will also be working to grow its market share on the Android ecosystem. Although Android is known to be processor architecture agnostic, Intel remains disadvantaged against the ARM competition since existing Android apps aren't primarily optimized for Intel's x86 architecture. The hope is that Bay Trail's expected boost in performance will compensate for any performance hindrances this discrepancy may cause. Additionally, if Intel begins to gain meaningful Android market share, Android developers could begin to make the switch and start programming specifically for Intel's x86 architecture.
Aside from how Intel performs on Android in the real world, you could always get excited about those $200 Bay Trail-powered Windows 8 tablets on the horizon.
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