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Intel: next-gen Atom SoC will debut in 2011

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IDF Intel today reiterated its plan to bring the next generation of Atom processors to market early next year.

The chip, codenamed 'Oak Trail', is aimed at tablets and more thin'n'light netbooks than we've seen to date. Not simply a CPU, Oak Trail will be a full system-on-a-chip with comprehensive power management to cut power consumption and heat output, and that's what will make these form-factors possible, the chip giant said.

Certainly, it needs to do so. A number of Atom-based tablets were demo'd at IDF this week and none proved as slim as a typical ARM-based tablet, such as the Apple iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab.

A fair few seemed little more than netbooks with the lid removed and the keyboard replaced with a touchscreen. Their thickness is due not only to the big battery needed for a full-day runtime but to accommodate the cooling tech needed by today's Atoms.

It's one of the reasons why Intel's last big attempt to promote handheld tablets, 2006's UMPC (Ultra-Mobile PC) initiative failed.

Intel promises Oak Trail will consume half the power of current Atoms, on average, allowing hardware manufacturers to slim their devices down and - we hope - dispense with active cooling.

The chip company first mentioned Oak Trail at the Computex show, held last June in Taipei. It didn't provide any further technical details this week. ®

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