According to CNET’s sources, the first wave of Windows 8 based tablets will be hitting stores in November. It had been widely expected that Microsoft would be pushing Windows 8 devices out before the end of 2012, and the Redmond company may not disappoint after all.
Windows 8 poses a significant challenge to the engineers at Microsoft as it isn’t just a restricted mobile operating system on the lines of iOS and Android.
It is meant to be a complete and comprehensive Windows experience within the 10 odd inches of a standard tablet screen, while it also needs to act as a worthy successor to the ubiquitous Windows 7 powering the vast majority of computers worldwide.
The new approach Microsoft (and its OEM partners such as HP) have taken is to dabble in hybrid devices – devices that are part touchscreen tablets and part physical keyboard based notebooks. This means that the sheer variety of processing power needed will be vast. It shows in the fact that Windows 8 will have support for up to 5 separate CPU architectures – multiple ARM processors (the overwhelmingly popular choice for both Android tablets and the iPad), AMD, and Intel.
Intel’s initial experiments in the mobile processing sector didn’t succeed at all as they simply couldn’t come up with a chip as power efficient as the solutions from ARM Holdings. That may about to change with the upcoming tablets in November though – they’re packed with dual core 32 nm Intel Clover Trail Atom chips. Even Apple recently updated the iPad 2’s chip to 32nm (from a 45nm one) due to the former’s power efficiency.
CNET’s sources also added that Intel has what it calls ‘Bay Trail’ lined up as a successor to the Clover Trail chip. It’ll be a 22nm powerhouse that’ll be meant to compete with the best that Apple has to offer in its third generation iPad and beyond.