This Intel Corporation Tablet Design Win Looks Great

Intel's long-delayed push into Android is finally beginning to bear fruit with the announcement of compelling designs.

Jun 7, 2014 at 12:00PM

Readers of my columns know that a big point of frustration as an Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) investor has been the very slow roll out of Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android-based tablets running Intel's latest Bay Trail-T processor. While the platform launched back in September 2013, we are now just seeing the first designs appear in mid-2014. That said, the Android-based products that are beginning to roll out based on this Intel platform look very compelling. 

ASUS' MeMO Pad 7 looks like a great value
To provide some context, Taiwan-based ASUS is well known in the PC market for delivering top-quality PCs and related components and peripherals. It has also had success in mobile -- ASUS designed both Google Nexus 7 tablets and was one of the first to put out a "convertible" Android tablet/notebook. This is a highly innovative company that could ultimately be very successful across the wide spectrum of mobile products.

Asus

The ASUS MeMO Pad 7. Source: ASUS.

Earlier this year, Intel announced a partnership with ASUS that should span a wide range of smartphones and tablets. As a result of this partnership, ASUS has announced an entire suite of products based on Intel chips. One notable design win for Intel is the ASUS MeMO Pad 7. Below is a comparison of last year's MeMO Pad 7 (which AnandTech liked, save for the poor performance of the low-end MediaTek chip found inside) and this year's Intel-based version:

Tablet

ASUS MeMO Pad 7 (2013)

ASUS MeMO Pad 7 (2014)

Processor

1.2 GHz MediaTek MT8125 (4x Cortex A7)

1.86 GHz Intel Atom Z3745 (4x Silvermont)

Display

7-inch, 1280x800 IPS

7-inch, 1280x800 IPS

RAM

1GB DDR3L

1 GB DDR3L

Storage

8GB/16GB

16GB

Camera

1.2 MP front/5.0 MP rear

2.0 MP front/5.0 MP rear

Pricing

$129/$149

$149

Source: AnandTech, PC Perspective.

As you can see, the big "change" is that the MediaTek system-on-chip gets the boot and is replaced with an Intel-based version. While on the surface, it may look as though the improvement is limited to the CPU clock speed difference (i.e., "GHz"), the Silvermont cores are also much faster on a per clock basis. The GPU is also significantly faster, which should be of particular use in games.

Just how much faster will the new MeMO Pad 7 be?
PC Perspective tested the new Intel-based MeMO Pad 7, and AnandTech ran a pretty hefty suite of benchmarks of the MediaTek-based MeMO Pad 7, so the benchmark results from both reviews allows us to piece together a fairly complete performance picture. First, CPU performance results as measured by the 3D Mark Unlimited physics subtest (physics simulation in a game is CPU intensive and a real-world application):

Images

Source: AnandTech, PC Perspective.

In moving from the quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex A7 to the 1.86 GHz Silvermont, performance of the 2014 MeMO Pad 7 increases by about 120%. Not a bad improvement over the course of a year, especially given that the price point remains identical.

Moving on to graphics performance, we'll use the 3D Mark graphics subtest score:

Images

Source: AnandTech, PC Perspective.

As you can see here, the Intel-powered version of the MeMO Pad 7 offers about five times the graphics performance of the MediaTek-based variant. This is a substantial improvement over the course of the year, especially -- once again -- as the price point of the tablet doesn't change.

Foolish takeaway
Intel is offering its OEM partners some pretty serious bang for the buck, especially on Google Android tablets. At the $149 price point, it will be hard to find an Android tablet that delivers similar performance and specifications to what ASUS and potentially other Intel partners will offer. Of course, the Bay Trail-T platform commands a high bill of materials, so these products will be money losers for Intel, but designs like the MeMO Pad 7 will achieve the following:

  • Intel's X86 instruction set will gain developer attention as more devices with these chips come online.
  • Intel will gain credibility as a partner at the various OEMs.
  • The sockets that are unprofitable today will likely be renewed with platform bill of materials-optimized Intel silicon during 2015 and beyond, which should help Intel continue to grow share profitably.

This push into territory dominated by others will not be easy, but Intel is being aggressive in trying to win. Only time will tell if it ultimately does, but its chances look good so far.

Leaked: Apple's next smart device (warning, it may shock you)
Apple recently recruited a secret-development "dream team" to guarantee its newest smart device was kept hidden from the public for as long as possible. But the secret is out, and some early viewers are claiming its everyday impact could trump the iPod, iPhone, and the iPad. In fact, ABI Research predicts 485 million of this type of device will be sold per year. But one small company makes Apple's gadget possible. And its stock price has nearly unlimited room to run for early in-the-know investors. To be one of them, and see Apple's newest smart gizmo, just click here!

 

Ashraf Eassa owns shares of Intel. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Google (A shares), Google (C shares), and Intel. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google (A shares), Google (C shares), and Intel. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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