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Microsoft 'Surface Mini' tablet said to tap Qualcomm chip

Microsoft will roll out new Surface tablets running both Qualcomm and Intel processors, according to a report.

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

The Surface 2. The Microsoft Surface from day one has been one size: 10.6 inches. That is about to change. Microsoft

All signs point to the first Microsoft Surface tablet that rivals the portability of the iPad Mini. And new details leaked on Tuesday say it will run on a Qualcomm chip, while Intel powers another new entry.

A Qualcomm-powered Surface would be a first, as reported by Bloomberg. To date, the Surface and Surface Pro models have used Nvidia and Intel processors, respectively.

Maybe not coincidentally, the only other Windows RT-based tablet on the market, the Lumia 2520 from Nokia (which has been acquired by Microsoft), also uses a Qualcomm processor.

That's an important distinction because Qualcomm silicon in the Lumia 2520 provides 4G/LTE capability on both Verizon and AT&T and new the "Surface Mini" is expected to be based on RT also.

Mobile broadband is a feature that has been sorely lacking on Surface tablets. In March, Microsoft finally released a Surface 2 model with LTE -- but only on AT&T's network.

But Qualcomm won't be the only silicon inside new Surface models. Intel will also participate in the expected rollout on May 20, according to Bloomberg.

No details are out yet, however, on the design of the new Intel-packing model. While Intel's Haswell processor is inside the Surface Pro 2, the chipmaker also offers the more power-efficient quad-core "Bay Trail" Atom processor for tablets.