Tablets, like any other technology, is subject to increasing consumer demands for devices that push the envelope. Intel's new Atom CPU, designed specifically for mobile tablet devices, offers "smaller, thinner, fanless" technology, according to the company, as well as some new integrated goodies. Read on for the details.

The Intel Atom Z670 is part of Intel's Oak Trail line of processors. The vendor is making no bones about where its processors stand among the other mobile CPUs of the world. "Atom platforms harness Intel's unique 'operating system of choice' strategy," according to the press release, which is really just a fancy way of saying Atom CPUs use the x86 instruction set. It's indeed an advantage Intel has among mobile competitors sporting ARM-based CPUs. Any operating system with an x86 instruction can be installed easily.

The new Atom is set for Google Chrome, Android, MeeGo and Windows, according to Intel, but it's odd that Intel includes Android in its press release, considering there is no official Android port to the x86 platform (although third-party efforts exist.) Perhaps Intel knows something we don't? If that is the case, why isn't Android listed on the chip's fact sheet?

Meanwhile, the Atom Z670 is 60 percent smaller than previous Atom CPUs and features a system-on-a-chip with integrated memory controller, integrated graphics and a low-power, low-heat design, enabling the device to handle 1080p video decoding and HDMI out. Plus, the chip does Flash. Intel is hoping OEMs will use the Atom Z670 in embedded portable devices in retail, medial and industrial applications, be it patient care or a point-of sale-device.

That's where the channel steps in. With mobile devices based on x86 technology, partners have the potential to give customers the best of both worlds: small and powerful devices running Windows without the traditional power consumption and CPU limitations. Although I'm not a big fan of a consumer tablet running Windows, a Windows tablet in the workplace is most compatible.

If Atom Z670 catches on, Intel already has its successor in production for the second half of 2011. Codenamed Cedar Trail, the system-on-a-chip will feature Blu-ray support, a new 1080p playback engine, integrated Intel wireless music and wireless display capabilities and additional power consumption enhancements. Such a chip would be ideal for digital signage as well as tablets.

Even though the consumer space is dominated by the iPad, and consumerization of IT has pushed the iPad into the enterprise, I wouldn't be surprised if Intel's new Atom CPU creates a surge of workplace tablets and devices that don't compromise on functionality and run mission-critical software on Windows.

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