Betting On Bay Trail: Intel's Atom Overhaul Tested

Conclusion: A Winning Solution From Every Angle

Bay Trail, in most respects, the Atom solution we've been waiting five years to get our hands on. The Windows numbers show this in particular -- Clover Trail, even at its strongest, left an enormous gap between "netbook/tablet" and "notebook" performance. Intel's repeated insistence on improving battery life and integration at the expense of everything else made it increasingly hard to accept the original Atom's architectural flaws and performance drawbacks. Bay Trail fixes them and then some.

Intel's testbed devices -- and a lovely knit pattern

To be fair to AMD, Kabini has done a fine job fixing a lot of the same problems, too -- but a full comparison between the two platforms will have to wait until we've got our hands on shipping hardware. Based on what we've seen thus far, Bay Trail crushes Clover Trail. It dramatically boosts performance compared to its predecessor and its serious competition for AMD's own tablet and netbook hardware. This could be the chip that bridges the gap between thicker, hotter x86 tablets or convertibles and the silent, svelte devices using ARM or Clover Trail. That's 100% upside for the consumer.

None of this means Bay Trail will automatically be successful, as such. Right now, Windows tablets are facing stiff headwinds. If they weren't, Intel wouldn't have moved Android up from second string (its inarguable position 12 months back) to equal player. But what Intel has done here is create a tablet that can hang with the competition in Android and offers its own set of significant benefits to the Windows platform. There are still a lot of questions swirling around Windows 8.1's uptake, battery life and power consumption of shipping devices, as well as what Qualcomm and NVIDIA might unveil over the next few months, but Bay Trail is a huge leap forward for Intel on virtually every front. This should be an interesting Q4 indeed.

*Note: Portions of this article were contributed by Marco Chiappetta and Dave Altavilla

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