Did Intel Corporation Really Lose the Nexus 8 to Qualcomm?

The upcoming rumored Nexus 8 tablet from Google is now rumored to sport a Qualcomm processor, not an Intel one, as previously reported by Digitimes.

Jun 10, 2014 at 10:15AM

A little while ago, there was a lot of speculation that Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) was going to be in the next Nexus tablet from Google (NASDAQ:GOOG). First "official" speculation that Intel would win this design came from Digitimes in early January 2014. The reasoning here makes quite a bit of sense since ASUSTek, the company that designed the prior two Nexus tablets, has now more or less gone to Intel for all tablet silicon. But recent rumors suggest that the upcoming tablet will neither be designed by ASUSTek (HTC is tipped for this one) nor will it sport Intel silicon.

What's the current rumor and does it make sense?
According to a leak over at site MyDrivers, the next generation Nexus 8 will sport a Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) applications processor and run Android 4.5. The most interesting tidbit surrounding this leak, however, is that the applications processor will be 64-bit capable. If we take a look at Qualcomm's chip portfolio, we see that only the Snapdragon 410 (which is a low-end, low-cost smartphone chip targeted) will be available to fit particular bill during the Q3 timeframe.

The Snapdragon 610/615 will pack a bit more "oomph," and would be the logical successors to the Snapdragon 600-esque (it is Snapdragon S4 Pro's CPU with Snapdragon 600's graphics block) chip found inside of the 2013 edition of the Nexus 7. But Qualcomm has indicated that these parts will be available "by the end of 2014," putting them out of the running. The higher end Snapdragon 808/810 parts won't be available until 2015, so those are out too.

A Tegra K1 or an Intel Z3580 still make more sense ... if it's 64-bit capable
While MyDrivers typically has a good track record, it's worth pointing out that -- at least from a features/performance perspective -- either Intel's Moorefield (Atom Z3580) or NVIDIA's (NASDAQ:NVDA) Tegra K1 (64-bit variant) both make more sense for this particular design. Both would offer superior performance, and both would offer the "64-bit" checkbox that Google seems to be trying to check-off. That said, the 64-bit Tegra K1 probably won't be available in-time for a launch over the next couple of weeks, leaving Intel's Z3580 as the most sensible choice if Google's upcoming tablet will be 64-bit capable.

Now, if the design isn't 64-bit capable, then a Snapdragon 800 (which is very common in high end Android devices) or even the more powerful Snapdragon 805 would make at least as much sense as the Intel Z3580. Further, NVIDIA's 32-bit variant of the Tegra K1 would offer pretty spectacular graphics performance and very competitive processor performance. The Z3580 makes more sense, if this design does go Intel, than the Bay Trail (Z37xx) chips since the Bay Trail processors don't offer much in the way of graphics improvement from the prior generation Nexus 7 (although the CPU performance uplift is substantial).

Foolish bottom line
The next generation Nexus tablet is likely to launch at Google's I/O conference in just a few weeks, so the speculation will be put to bed then. But it seems very unlikely that the timing of proper 64-bit capable Qualcomm or even NVIDIA chips will coincide with a launch of a next generation Nexus 7, leaving Intel as the "best" choice if 64-bit is needed. If MyDrivers is wrong that this product will have 64-bit support, then all bets are off.

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 Google (C shares), Intel, and Nvidia. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google (C shares), Intel, and Qualcomm. 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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