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Galaxy Tab 3 10.1: Samsung plays Intel against ARM

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Samsung are about to announce a Galaxy tablet running Android but with Intel inside. And while it is a victory for the US chip goliath, it's also one which could prove pyrrhic given the large amount of cash Intel will have to cough.

Samsung has booked a London launch for 20 June, with new Windows tablets expected but not confirmed. Those tablets will use Intel chips, but Reuters claims to have confirmation that the next Android tablets will also make use of Intel's Clover Trail+ silicon while the Korean Times perhaps explains why.

The need to invest a lot of resources isn't unusual among component suppliers, in the form of loaned engineers and development support - "designing in" as the marketers would have it. In this instance The Korean Times tells us that Intel Korea has upped its count of chip engineers from six to 50, and that most of them are working with Samsung.

That's important, as Samsung's ATIV range was launched very early this year, using an Intel Core i5 CPU presumably integrated with the help of those six engineers.

It could be that Samsung's new range of ATIV tablets have a radical redesign which needed a hugely inflated engineering team, but given that Windows 8 still only runs on Intel hardware, it would be surprising to see Intel contributing so much to the project.

Getting onto an Android tablet is a different thing entirely, and Intel would spend a lot of money to achieve that. Samsung's flagship Galaxy series is the best home a chip could hope for, so there's no reason to doubt the rumours even without confirmation from Reuters' "source familiar with the matter".

But while Samsung might be the most desirable of partners, it's also the most fickle, switching allegiances where necessary but mostly acting like a serial adulterer - maintaining multiple relationships for fun, and desperately attempting to avoid offending anyone, despite the certain knowledge that eventually it will all come crashing down.

In the meantime, Samsung's bets are comfortably hedged, and if Intel wants to send over an engineering team and give a discount on chips then Samsung will welcome them inside, but don't expect to see the Koreans giving up on the ARM alternatives any time soon. ®

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