Rumor: Intel Is Now Powering Both Surface and Surface Pro

Subject: Processors, Mobile | March 25, 2015 - 09:51 PM |
Tagged: Intel, core m, atom, surface, Surface 2, Windows 8.1, windows 10

The stack of Microsoft tablet devices had high-end Intel Core processors hovering over ARM SoCs, the two separated by a simple “Pro” label (and Windows 8.x versus Windows RT). While the Pro line has been kept reasonably up to date, the lower tier has been stagnant for a while. That is apparently going to change. WinBeta believes that a new, non-Pro Surface will be announced soon, at or before BUILD 2015. Unlike previous Surface models, it will be powered by an x86 processor from Intel, either an Atom or a Core M.

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This also means it will run Windows 8.1.

The article claims, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that Windows RT is dead. No. But still, the device should be eligible for a Windows 10 upgrade when it launches, unlike the RT-based Surfaces. Whether that is a surprise depends on the direction you view it from. I would find it silly for Microsoft to release a new Surface device, months before an OS update, but design it to be incompatible with it. On the other hand, it would be the first non-Pro Surface to do so. Either way, it was reported.

The “Surface 3”, whatever it will be called, is expected to be a fanless design. VR-Zone expects that it will be similar to the 10.6-inch, 1080p form factor of the Surface 2, but that seems to be their speculation. That is about all that we know thus far.

Source: WinBeta

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March 25, 2015 | 11:00 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

It will probably be some ATOM with god awful graphics, or could be a Rockchip or x3 series with ARM graphics.

Here's to hoping that some better full Linux based tablets begin to appear on the market, along with an Apple Pro tablet that can run full OSX! For sure the Apple SKU will have better graphics, maybe the newest PowerVR series with the option for up to 16 clusters and 512 ALUs, and include the PowerVR ray tracing hardware/IP. Apple could potentially have a hit with professional graphic designers if it would just make a tablet that can run full OSX, and for sure the A9, paired with a powerVR 7XT based GPU could handle OSX. Why most of the Linux kernel derived Android OS tablet makers can not offer at least one SKU that is capable of running a full Linux distro, is very frustrating, as that would give the users a possibility running more open source graphics software than the Android ecosystem allows.

M$ appears to have one of the few lines of full OS based tablets, and Apple is continuing to focus on iOS based tablets and forgoing any attempts at providing a full OS based ecosystem tablet line! It's no wonder the consumer interest in tablets is waning, and M$'s pricing on its surface pro line is much too high for the majority of the market, that and Intel's subpar GPUs on its lower cost SOC SKUs. The remainder of the tablet makers are too wedded to Android, with the few full Linux OS based tablets basically unavailable in the US market. I so wish that Valve would brand a Steam OS based tablet with maybe and AMD K12 based custom ARM APU, AMD will most likely be the one that will finally be able to provide a competitor to Apple's integrated graphics on the tablet form factor, Nvidia is too into cars and the Android OS to give M$ any competition with a full OS based system. Intel's tablet SKUs will never provide a low cost great graphics combination like AMD could potentially provide once its custom ARM, and newer x86 tablet SKUs arrive. I'm tired of the lack of more Full OS based(Linux, other) Tablets in the market.

March 26, 2015 | 04:47 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Only way they're going to have OSX on an Apple Tablet is with an Intel processor inside. And once again go fuck yourself.

March 26, 2015 | 08:52 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Got to say, that last sentence wasn't cool.

March 29, 2015 | 05:41 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

i guess it's okay when Ryan say it in the comments tho

March 29, 2015 | 05:04 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

At best, that argument claims "I'm only as mean as this other person". At worst, it's invalid justification for malice.

But yeah, I'm not judging people. I'm just saying that's not appropriate.

March 29, 2015 | 09:43 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Noted, just hypocritical to call someone out on something that I've seen the owner of the site do with no response from you at the time. And the justification for the malice is the repeated essays in the comment section that are regurgitated fluff about the merits of the ARM architecture. Thank you for morally policing the internet though.

March 26, 2015 | 10:09 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Considering Apple's previously utilizing the PowerPC ISA, and had no problem making the switch to x86, what would make the switch to the ARM ISA for OSX an impossibility. Hell the custom wide order superscalar design of the A7, as reviewed by Anand himself, was compared more to an Intel core i series SKU in execution resources, than any of the ARM holdings reference designs. Apple is not wedded to the x86 ISA for its OSX OS, any more than Apple was wedded to the PowerPC ISA at the time Apple chose to switch to the x86 ISA.

One only needs to look at the Power8 Xeon beating RISC designs to see where the ARM/RISC microarchitecture could potentially taken, should Apple's P.A. semiconductor engineers chose to add SMT and even more execution ports on the A9 SOC. Hell Apple has the funds in petty cash to get an architecture license from IBM/OpenPower, and potentially put x86 out to pasture for the MAC Pro, and Apple's high end MacBook pro SKUs. There are some reference design 4 core versions of the Power8 from IBM/OpenPower for the licensees that could potentially find their way into some gaming PCs, and give Intel some more competition in that market segment. The Power8, like ARM the core microarchitecture, is a RISC design and Power8 beats Xeon in the server room. You definitely have issues with any other ISA other than the x86 ISA, and really have no basic understanding of software, and OSs, or CPU microarchitectures.

March 26, 2015 | 12:20 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Make it with Core-M fanless CPU.

March 26, 2015 | 10:17 AM - Posted by BBMan (not verified)

"Unlike previous Surface models, it will be powered by an x86 processor from Intel, either an Atom or a Core M.

This also means it will run Windows 8.1."
A Microsoft tablet? Whodda thunk?

March 26, 2015 | 12:33 PM - Posted by Jeremy Hellstrom

Looks like my predictions of Surface's upcoming demise were not entirely accurate.

March 26, 2015 | 08:53 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Previous versions of that line run Windows RT, not Windows 8.1, because they are powered by ARM.

March 26, 2015 | 10:59 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

And M$ wanted something quick and dirty that they could get to market PDQ and make some of that Apple style iOS fast cash on a closed ecosystem app store. M$ had the RT version to market quick, under M$'s typically late to the party, us too school, of TIFKAM ecosystem phone/tablet style riches, and Ballmer's obvious Apple envy. M$ could have spent that wasted 900, or so, million dollar write off on the original surface SKUs on porting the full M$ OS onto the ARM ISA, but M$ was too into turning a functional windows 7, into an 8 eyed bi-modal beast that vacillated between being a terrible desktop UI, and a not good Phone OS UI, flip-flop, willy nilly, push me pull you, nightmare! For sure, the ARM core on the original surface was not up to the task of a full windows OS, and Apple's custom wide order A7, and now A8/A8X cores have more execution resources, and a much more powerful integrated GPU. Apple only needs to get 2 more execution ports going on its A9, and maybe get 8 IPC to match Intel's IPC count, over the 6 IPC the custom A7, A8/A8X currently gets. Apple can get more of its custom cores on a DIE, as each RISC core take less space to fully implement. There is no way the A7, A8, or A9 cores can even be mentioned in the same sentence as the reference ARM core in the original surface tablet.

M$ bungled the original Surface Tablet in the usual M$ fashion, and took that Ballmer sized write down on the unsold mountain of stock, and now RT has gotten the usual M$ depreciation status, like so many of M$'s other new and shiny that could not retain their buff.

March 26, 2015 | 05:41 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Aw, What about an AMD Micro A10-6700T? I would take that over a Baytrail anyday.

March 27, 2015 | 05:48 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The obvious choice are the new Cherry Trail SOCs being produced right now. They include 4x the number of EUs and a CPU clock increase on the Silvermont architecture used in Baytrail.

It's a perfect fit for basic mobile and entertainment needs.

April 8, 2015 | 09:24 PM - Posted by kokaba

Intel really made a big step on devices CPUs.

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