Microsoft and Intel moving ahead with Surface tablet

Chip giant won't be left out in the cold at the upcoming Microsoft Surface event.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers

Microsoft Surface Pro Brooke Crothers

While a smaller version of the Surface tablet may be the main attraction at an upcoming Microsoft event, other changes to the line are also expected.

In addition to the "Surface Mini" product based on a Qualcomm chip, a new Intel-based Surface product is also expected at the May 20 event, as first reported by Bloomberg.

"There's definitely a new Intel-based Surface," a chip industry source told CNET, who added that the media attending the event may "go back" with the Intel-based product.

"From what I can assess so far I think it's going to [have] a new power-optimized Haswell variant," the source said, not an Atom processor like Intel's Bay Trail.

And that new Intel-based model is not expected to be a smaller version of the Surface like the Qualcomm-based product, another source added. This person also believes it will be a Haswell-based product.

To date, Surface Pro models have used Intel processors exclusively. The latest Surface Pro 2, for example, uses an Intel Core i5-4300U processor, which is a Haswell chip.

On the other hand, a Qualcomm-powered Surface would be a first. To date, the non-Pro Surface models, which run Windows RT 8.1, have used Nvidia silicon.

The only other Windows RT 8.1-based tablet on the market, the Lumia 2520 from Nokia (which has been acquired by Microsoft), also uses a Qualcomm processor.

Qualcomm silicon in the Lumia 2520 provides 4G/LTE capability on both Verizon and AT&T.

Microsoft declined to comment.