Intel hints at another new tablet chip, called Cloverview

Intel will announce more information about the Cloverview and Medfield chips for tablets later this year

Intel has hinted that is developing another next-generation chip for tablets, called "Cloverview," as part of its ongoing strategy to make its Atom processors more power-efficient.

Mention of the new name came during a speech on Tuesday at the Intel Developer Forum in Beijing. The chip will be built using a 32-nanometer manufacturing process, which will lower power consumption, said Doug Davis, general manager for the company's netbook and tablet group.

Cloverview will join two other 32 nm Atom-based chips that Intel is developing. The company's "Cedar Trail chip" is being built for netbooks, while another chip known as Medfield is meant to be used in low-end smartphones and tablets.

Intel's Atom processors are designed to function as low-power chips for netbooks and tablets. But they still lag behind low-power processors from Intel's rival ARM, which are considered more power efficient and are more widely used in tablet devices. Intel believes it will gradually close the power usage gap by upgrading its chip manufacturing process. In two years' time, the company will move its Atom processors to a 32 nm production process, and then down to a 22 nm process.

Davis also unveiled the company's latest Atom processor, the Z670, formerly known as Oak Trail. The Z670 is built using a 45 nm process, and features integrated graphics. Intel customers are designing about 35 tablet models using the Z670, some of which could go on sale as early as May, the company said.

Tablets represent a major new market for Intel's chips. In 2010, tablet shipments worldwide reached nearly 18 million, according to research firm IDC. That number is expected to increase to 44.6 million for this year.

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