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For Galaxy Tab, odd Samsung-Intel partnership emerges

Samsung is opting for an Intel chip in its next Galaxy Tab, which makes for an unusual partnership.

A first for Samsung: an Intel chip in one of its Android tablets.
A first for Samsung: an Intel chip in one of its Android tablets.

Samsung is putting an Intel chip in an Android Galaxy Tab. That's unusual.

As CNET reported back on May 20, Samsung is slated to disclose -- either privately or publicly -- the next Intel-based Galaxy tablet at Computex, which starts June 4. It will run Android 4.2.2 and sport a 1,280 x 800 display.

What's odd is that Samsung is a chipmaking giant in its own right and considered an Intel rival in Android mobile devices. For example, its Exynos series of chips power the Galaxy smartphones and Galaxy tablets.

But it may have good reason to tap Intel technology.

"[Intel's] Clover Trail+ delivers competitive performance and battery life with Qualcomm and Nvidia ARM chips," said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight 64.

Brookwood continued. "It's the first [version] of Atom that can support both Android and Windows 8. In the past, Intel's platforms for Windows 8 differed from their platforms for Android. So, it would be possible for Samsung to build a Galaxy Tab that is physically the same hardware [as an Android product] and use it for a Windows 8 version," Brookwood said.

Here's another reason: Intel's upcoming Bay Trail chip -- a complete redesign of the Atom micro-architecture -- may be an even more attractive option for Samsung tablets and hybrids in the coming months.

Intel already supplies processors for Samsung PCs and its Ativ Windows 8 tablets and hybrids, which will most certainly be updated when Windows 8.1 and Bay Trail arrive.

A South Korea-based report on Thursday claimed Intel and Samsung intend to "expand" their partnership.

"Intel Korea is hiring more chip developers...the number of Intel's Atom-branded chip engineers increased to over 50 this year from last year's six in Korea. Most of them are working for Samsung-related projects with a mission to customize circuits for adaptation on Samsung products," the report in Korea Times said, quoting a source.

The Galaxy 10.1 Android tablet is expected to sport a dual-core 1.6GHz version of the Atom Clover Trail+. That chip uses a high-performance PowerVR SGX544 MP2 graphic processing unit from Imagination Technologies.

It's also possible that Samsung could come out with Galaxy Tab based on its own Exynos chip or an ARM chip from Qualcomm or Nvidia.