Intel's Bay Trail chip arriving on Android tablets in Q2

Chipmaker's tablet processor will come to Android tablets in the second quarter, says CEO Brian Krzanich. He also touts the advantages of 64-bit chips.

Brooke Crothers
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.
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Dell's Venue 8 Android tablet uses an older Intel chip not the newest Bay Trail
Dell's Venue 8 Android tablet uses an older Intel chip not the newest Bay Trail. Dell

Intel's quad-core Atom processor will come to Android tablets in the second quarter, CEO Brian Krzanich said Thursday during a quarterly earnings conference call with analysts.

"Most of the Bay Trail Android tablets really start showing up more in Q2...remember we made a shift, the original program for Bay Trail was all Windows," he said during Intel's fourth-quarter earnings conference call.

He went on to explain that there was a shift mid-stream to Android, thus the delay in Bay Trail Android tablets.

Android devices running on the Bay Trail processor were conspicuously absent at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month. Intel's CES pavilion, for instance, had no Bay Trail Android tablets on display.

During the conference call, Krzanich also talked about the advantages of its 64-bit chips when responding to an analyst's question (transcript courtesy of Seeking Alpha). Android today is a 32-bit platform.

[Device makers] who build with our products now can already go out and start to utilize 64-bit. We are out there working with the OSs, all of the OSs and the OEMs to go enable that. The real usages...are going to be in those high compute areas, things like video, things like media, transfer media manipulation. All the classic things around computing that you saw drive the compute cycles on PC and people are doing more and more with tablets and phones or that will be the same things that drive 64-bit utilization on these mobile devices.

In November of last year, Intel demonstrated the "first ever showing of a 64-bit kernel running on Bay Trail with Android."

Ironically, the Bay Trail processor currently runs in 32-bit mode on Windows 8.1 too -- which is otherwise a full 64-bit platform -- though that will be rectified in the coming months when 64-bit Windows 8.1 mode is enabled.

Apple garnered lots of headlines in September when it unveiled the 64-bit A7 processor -- that chip now powers the iPhone 5S, iPad Air, and iPad Mini Retina.

Going to 64-bit allows a device, for instance, to address more memory -- more than the 4GB limitation in many cases for 32-bit processors.

And a 64-bit platform can allow data-intensive applications to handle large chunks of data more efficiently than 32-bit -- and that can have implications in gaming, for instance.