Did Intel Corporation Just Kick NVIDIA Corporation Out of the Xiaomi MiPad?

By Markets Fool.com

According to GSMArena, a next generation Xiaomi tablet will apparently come packed with an Intel designed processor rather than the NVIDIA Tegra processor that was found inside of the Xiaomi MiPad. This has led to some speculation that Intel has displaced NVIDIA from the next generation MiPad, but I believe a closer look at the evidence suggests that if this is legitimate, it may be a lower cost tablet from Xiaomi rather than a successor to the more premium MiPad.

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What chip is that, again?
The GSMArena article points out that the chip inside of this alleged Xiaomi tablet is a 1.8 GHz: Intel Atom processor. According to Intel's processor database, this could be one of the following Intel Atom SKUs:

SoC Name

Atom Z3745D

Atom Z3740D

Atom Z3740D

Atom Z3735G

Atom Z3735F

Atom Z3735E

Atom Z3735D

Atom Z3560

Source: Intel

Now, if you look very closely at one of the provided images, you can see that the Atom name ends in a letter (and I'm pretty sure it's an "F"). My best guess is that this chip is the Atom Z3735F, which is one of Intel's lower-cost, lower-performance variants of its Bay Trail processor.

There's no way this could be a replacement for a Tegra K1
For those who follow the mobile SoC space, you'll know that NVIDIA's Tegra K1 is one of the highest end, highest performing chips on the market. In terms of CPU performance, the K1 should be noticeably ahead of the relatively low-clocked quad Silvermont CPUs inside of the Z3735F. In terms of graphics performance, it's no contest: the Tegra K1 is faster, and not just by a little bit, either.

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There's very little chance that if this is an upcoming Xiaomi tablet that it's a direct replacement for the high-end Xiaomi MiPad; it's more likely that it would be a lower-priced model, perhaps aimed at emerging markets.

If Intel were to win a higher-end Xiaomi tablet, it needs Cherry Trail
While none of the Bay Trail or even Moorefield processors available from Intel today would be worthy of a Tegra K1 MiPad successor, Intel's upcoming 14-nanometer Cherry Trail processor might pack enough processor and graphics grunt to do the trick.

From a launch timing perspective, the original MiPad launched back in May. Cherry Trail, according to Intel CEO Brian Krzanich at the company's investor meeting, is slated to ramp during the first half of 2015. The timing of a Cherry Trail-based Xiaomi MiPad might actually work, although Cherry Trail would need to provide a compelling performance upgrade over the K1 to work.

More importantly, NVIDIA is likely to launch its next generation mobile system-on-chip known as Erista, at some point during 2015. I'd wager that NVIDIA plans to move to a next generation manufacturing technology (likely 20-nanometer), which -- along with architectural enhancements -- should allow it to offer a much improved performance-per-watt profile over today's K1.

It's not clear whether Intel will ultimately beat NVIDIA in winning the next generation MiPad (I wouldn't count on it), but whatever we see in those GSMArena screenshots is almost certainly not that device.

The article Did Intel Corporation Just Kick NVIDIA Corporation Out of the Xiaomi MiPad? originally appeared on Fool.com.

Ashraf Eassa owns shares of Intel. The Motley Fool recommends Intel and Nvidia. The Motley Fool owns shares of Intel. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.