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Intel halts Broxton and Sofia Atom chips

Intel halts Broxton and Sofia Atom chips
Intel halts Broxton and Sofia Atom chips
Cherry Trail could be the end of the line for the Atom family as profitability from Atom-driven tablets and smartphones looks unlikely.

A few weeks ago at the Intel Developer Forum, Intel introduced the Apollo Lake platform as the successor to the current Braswell Atom platform for netbooks. Following this will be the 14 nm Goldmont chips for "Cloudbooks" and other low-cost notebooks as small as 11-inches. The manufacturer's Atom plans for mobile, however, may now be axed entirely. Both the Braxton and Sofia Atom SoCs are no longer in the pipeline for smartphones and tablets, which leaves the already crowded market to more successful ARM-based chips like those from Qualcomm, Samsung, Apple, and others.

Tablets with Windows 10

Availability and support for older Windows tablets that carry Atom CPUs will likely wane including the Microsoft Surface 3 series. The Surface Pro series, however, will be unaffected since they carry Core M and Core ix options. The aforementioned Apollo Lake will likely fill in the gap to continue the niche x86 Windows tablet market. The prices of such models will likely remain lower than the current Core M SKUs, which have already been optimized for fanless tablets and convertibles. This squeezes the Atom into an even smaller niche due to the overlap of Core M offerings.

Future Strategy

An official successor to Apollo Lake has not been announced through any publicly available roadmaps and will likely not be available until 2017, if at all. Intel recently announced a large layoff of its workforce, poor quarterly numbers, and a refocusing on five major categories with less emphasis on PCs. Thus, it will be interesting to see how or if the Atom family will fit into Intel's vision for better profitability.


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Alexander Fagot/ Allen Ngo, 2016-05- 4 (Update: 2016-05- 4)