Intel introduced a new wrinkle into the Windows 8 tablet market on Thursday by launching an upgrade of its entry-level Atom chip line best known for (under)powering netbooks. The more powerful but still low-cost Windows 8-compatible microprocessor challenges the need for Windows RT tablets powered by ARM chips.
At the debut of the new Atom processor in San Francisco, a number of Intel's key partners were on hand to show off Windows 8 convertible tablet designs running on the new chip. But while the event provided a peek into at least some of their hardware plans a month or so before Windows 8's launch, most key details - including prices - remained mysteries and the OEMs offered little to distinguish their products from one another.
However, one thing is clear - Intel's Atom processor, once dismissed as an obscure product for netbooks, set-top boxes and other embedded designs, has emerged as a significant force in Intel's product lineup.