Clover Trail is an Atom chip slated for the second half of the year, about the same time frame that Windows 8 is due, a source familiar with Intel’s plans told CNET.

Clover Trail is a follow-on to Medfield–due in the second quarter–which is aimed primarily at smartphones. While the Medfield chip will undoubtedly be used in some tablets, it is a single-core design, while Clover Trail will also be offered in dual-core versions, making it more attractive for tablet makers, according to sources.

And Intel is expected to show off–either publicly or privately–Clover Trail-based prototype tablets running on Windows 8 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) later this month.

This follows comments last month by Intel’s Mark Miller, who told CNET that Clover Trail is “a vehicle for Windows 8 tablets and hybrids.”

A report from Taipei-based DigiTimes said today that Acer and Lenovo are expected to bring out Clover Trail tablets running Windows 8 in the third quarter of this year.

Last year, Samsung surprised attendees at the Windows Build Conference by handing out a Windows 8 tablet packing an Intel processor–not one from ARM as had been expected. ARM is the silicon of choice for Android tablets.

Generally, ARM processors are more power efficient than Intel processors, thus their wide use in tablets and smartphones. But Intel is working to close the power efficiency gap with Medfield, Clover Trail and later with Silvermont, a completely redesigned Atom chip due in 2013.

And Haswell–a mainstream Intel chip targeted at ultrabooks, hybrids, and tablets–is due in 2013 also.

The Ivy Bridge processor, also expected to make an appearance at CES, is targeted primarily at ultrabooks and mainstream laptops, though may also appear in hybrids. It is due to ship this spring.

Windows 8, a much more tablet-friendly OS than Windows 7, will run on both Intel/AMD chips and ARM. A first for a mainstream Microsoft operating system.



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