Home » consumer computing » Intel’s biggest flop: at least 3-month delay in delivering the power management solution for its first tablet SoC

Intel’s biggest flop: at least 3-month delay in delivering the power management solution for its first tablet SoC

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Core information:

This is all despite the fact that Intel had already the following slides back in April on the IDF2012 in Beijing:

imageimage
image

i.e. the slide on the left was explicitly stating these Mobility Features:
9+ Hours Battery Life
~30 Days Standby
as well as among the Experience Features:
Connected Standby 
The last two features are still (Dec 20) not met even for available Acer & Samsung devices!Source of the slides: Developing for Microsoft Windows 8 on Intel Architecture Based Tablets and Hybrids [Intel Developer Forum 2012 in Beijing, April 11, 2012]

In my Windows 8 gaining smartphone like “connected standby” capability [this same ‘Experiencing the Cloud’ blog, Nov 12, 2011] post I summarized the feature as:

New power state called “Connected Standby”

  • Windows coalesces all the timer and network requests, turns the radio on periodically to satisfy them, then goes back to very low power consumption.
  • But because app requests are getting satisfied they are up to date as soon as you press “ON”

Microsoft was clear as early as in 2011 in its Building a power-smart general-purpose Windows [Building Windows 8, Nov 9, 2011] post that:

For Windows 8, we’ve built a new device power framework that allows all devices to advertise their power management capabilities and integrate them with a special driver called the Power Engine Plug-in or PEP, designed for SoC systems. The PEP is provided by the silicon manufacturer and knows all of the SoC-specific power management requirements. This allows device drivers like our USB host controller or a keyboard driver to be built once, and still deliver optimal power management on all platforms from SoC-based PCs to datacenter servers.

We are hard at work with all of our ecosystem partners to deliver the low-power and long battery life technologies we all want in our Windows 8 PCs.

In Collaborating to deliver Windows RT PCs [Building Windows 8 blog, Aug 14, 2012] post Microsoft was even reporting that for ARM based Windows products:

The following chart shows some of the measurement ranges we are seeing as we test early production PCs for the connected standby and power scenarios.

The measurements are based on firmware still undergoing final optimizations, and the just released Windows RT RTM code, and will only improve as the PCs move towards manufacture. To provide context on the significance of the measurement, it is important to understand how the scenario was measured. In this case, the PC was playing back in full screen a local HD video at full resolution with a screen brightness of 200 nits. It was also configured for one email account using the Microsoft network. Finally, these numbers are also influenced by the different PC form factors themselves, which include both tablets and laptops, screen sizes that vary from 10.1” to 11.6”, and battery sizes spanning 25 Whr to 42 Whr.

Scenario

Early production range

HD Video Playback

8 hours to 13 hours of scenario run time

Connected Standby

320 hours to 409 hours of scenario run time

Then in NVIDIA Powers Amazing Windows 8 Experiences [NVIDIA press release, Oct 25, 2012] the number for connected standby on the Windows RT delivery was reported as:

Windows RT marks the first time that PCs have been able to take advantage of incredibly efficient ARM-based processors like Tegra 3, enabling two weeks of connected standby time. The majority of Windows RT devices at launch use NVIDIA Tegra 3, including the ASUS Vivo Tab RT, Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 and Microsoft Surface RT.

Note: For Android tablets similar results are available, if any. The Chinese made V971 tablet from Onda with an AML8726-MX SoC (dual Cortex-A9 CPU cores at 1.5GHz and dual core Mali 400 GPU), for example, has a “longest standby time” (最长待机时) of 360 hours. So even relatively unknown SoC vendors, like in this case Amlogic, in cooperation with Google were able to meet similar kind of power efficiency results in connected standby terms as Microsoft was able to meet with its selected ARM SoC partners, NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments for the new Windows release.

Nevertheless almost a year later than the original public information about Windows 8 gaining smartphone like “connected standby” capability [this same ‘Experiencing the Cloud’ blog, Nov 12, 2011], in September 2012 Bloomberg reported that:

Intel Corp. (INTC) Chief Executive Officer Paul Otellini told employees in Taiwan that Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)’s Windows 8 operating system is being released before it’s fully ready, a person who attended the company event said.

Improvements still need to be made to the software, Otellini told employees at a company meeting in Taipei yesterday, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the meeting was private.

Then despite an Intel Statement in Response to Unsubstantiated News Reports [Sept 26, 2012] Bloomberg BusinessWeek soon reported that Intel Software Snag Said to Hamper Windows Apple Response [Oct 1, 2012]

Intel Corp. (INTC)’s delayed delivery of software that conserves computer battery life is holding up development of some tablets running the latest version of Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)’s Windows operating system, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

Microsoft hasn’t yet approved any tablets featuring an Intel processor code-named Clover Trail because the chipmaker hasn’t produced necessary power-management software, said the person, who asked not to be named since the process is private.

ZDNet clarified the issue as:

Clover Trail introduces two new power management states, called S0i1 and S0i3. S0i1 is described as an “active” sleep state that kicks in when the user stops using the device but hasn’t yet put it to sleep, while the S0i3 sleep state is called a “connected” sleep state [rather: Windows 8 connected standby] and this allows the device to enter a state where it consume microwatts of power but can still wake up in a matter of milliseconds.

These new sleep states mean that the standby battery life of Z2760-powered hardware can be as much as three weeks.

Here we are talking about the driver programming for two power management units, each with its own microcontroller, as shown on the Clover Trail block diagram below:

image

which is related to new ultra low power states introduced into this next-generation Atom SoC:

image
which look like under thermal imaging as follows:
image  imageimage  image
Source of the slides: Tablet Platforms with Next Generation Intel® Atom™ Processors and Microsoft* Windows* 8 [IDF2012 San Francisco, Sept 12, 2012] by Joseph Nielsen,Tablet Platform Marketing Engineer, Intel Corporation and Mark Ewert, Tablet SoC Si Architect, Intel Corporation.

From Microsoft point of view, in addition to the already referred post, there is a follow-up Improving power efficiency for applications [Building Windows 8, Feb 8, 2012] post as well  which summarizes the Windows 8 SW part as:

Connected standby and sleep-capable machines

By the time Windows 8 is released, there will be a broader range of PCs available than ever before. Many of these will have similar power options to those running Windows 7 today. Besides turning off completely, they will be able to go into a “sleep” state, either on demand, or after a period of inactivity. During sleep, all system activity is completely suspended.

image

The chart above shows how, as the PC idles just prior to sleep, desktop apps continue to run in the same way as they have in prior versions of Windows, while Metro style apps run in the managed way I described earlier. When the PC goes to sleep, both desktop apps and Metro style apps are fully suspended. This is great for battery life—when the machine is asleep, it consumes very little power. It’s not as great for a data-freshness though, since when the machine is asleep, it isn’t getting live tile updates, downloading new mail, or getting ready to alert you with alarms or other notifications.

As Pat covered in his post [i.e. in Building a power-smart general-purpose Windows [Building Windows 8, Nov 9, 2011] referred earlier], we’ve enabled a new smartphone-like power state for a new class of PCs that rarely get turned off completely. Typically based on “System on Chip” (SoC) architectures, these PCs are interesting because instead of turning off during periods of inactivity they go into a very low power state while still running. This new state is referred to as “connected standby.” This enables some great connected scenarios, such as always having email up-to-date, and being able to receive instant messages or phone calls, while still delivering amazing battery life. The chart below shows behavior for both desktop and Metro style apps during connected standby. For this to really work effectively though, we had to consider both Metro style apps (which, as you saw earlier, we can very effectively ensure are conservative with system resources), as well as desktop applications, which presented a tougher challenge because they have been designed over the years to expect either full access to system resources (when running in the fore or background) or no access (when the PC is asleep.)

image

To this end, we have added a new component to Windows 8 called the “Desktop Activity Moderator,” which only runs on these new connected standby-capable platforms. This component is designed to help reduce the resource utilization of desktop apps when the device goes into connected standby. If we allowed apps to continue running unchecked in this low-power mode, the PC would run down the battery more quickly. Instead, we suspend desktop applications, stopping their resource use and maximizing battery life. From the applications’ perspective, it will appear as if the PC has simply been put to sleep. When the PC is woken from connected standby, the app will resume as if the PC had been woken from a sleep state.

However, there are actually several components on the system that are required for connected standby, which we cannot suspend. These include drivers, some inbox and 3rd party services, and of course, the Metro style apps that use the background features mentioned earlier. Many of these provide functionality such as responding to user input when you return to your device, or providing network functionality. We enable these to run in connected standby after careful evaluation to ensure they do not have a significant impact on battery life. In addition, there are a set of processes that need to run in response to activity on the system. These processes are throttled to only run for short periods of time until a background activity is initiated, at which point they are allowed to run unimpeded. A great example of this is an antivirus product, which is often scanning in response to activity on the system. When there is background activity occurring such as receiving an incoming email via the background affordances, antivirus can run unimpeded during this time. But during the majority of the time when incoming network activity is not occurring, there is very minimal activity and therefore these components will be throttled to minimize their impact on battery life.

More about that see:
Windows 8: Connected Standby [Jerry Nixon, Microsoft Developer Evangelist, April 17, 2012]
Introduction to Connected Standby [Microsoft whitepaper, Oct 5, 2012] from which it is worth to include here the following definition of the value as measured by Microsoft:

Systems that support Connected Standby must meet the Connected Standby Windows Hardware Certification Kit (HCK) requirement for battery life. This requirement specifies that all Connected Standby systems must drain less than 5% of system battery capacity over a 16-hour idle period in the default shipping configuration. A certification test for this can be found in the Windows Hardware Certification Kit (HCK).

which means a 320 hours connected standby time as a minimum to pass the certification test.

So Microsoft did its job as well demonstrated by ARM based Windows RT tablets, such the Microsoft Surface. This cannot be said about Intel even two months after the Windows 8 launch.

It is also notable for this whole story that the ultra low power consumption to be achieved by the above hardware+driver software solution was indicated as one of the most important feature of Intel® Atom™ Processor Z2760: Tablets that Move as Fast as We Do [channelintel YouTube channel, Sept 27, 2012], that is right, back in September when the Z2760 platform was officially announced by Intel:

From Sandor Nacsa: This video was published when Intel announced the Clover Trail Atom as Z2760. It is remarkable that the first two testimonials are from Sansung and Acer, then there are other two testimonials from ZTE and Lenovo, whose Z2760-based tablets are still not on the market as of Dec 19, 2012. There are still no answers about their availability from the vendors.

Now we are close to Christmas and Dell and HP hit by Windows 8 tablet delays; Clover Trail could be the problem [Dec 19, 2012]

The first Intel Atom and Clover Trail Windows 8 tablets from Dell and HP were slated to launch in late 2012, but now look set to arrive as late as the end of January 2013.

News broke as Dell pushed back the shipping date of its Latitude 10 Windows 8 Pro tablet more than a month to January 22 with HP in turn now expecting its Envy x2 tablet to reach customers by December 21 at the latest.

Dell announced the delay by tweaking the availability date on its website but rumors had been flying around the availability beforehand, with a Dell customer telling InformationWeek that he had been informed the Latitude 10 was delayed.

HP, meanwhile, informed tech website CNET that its convertible Envy x2 Windows 8 Pro tablet, initially set to launch on November 14, will reach customers in time for Christmas.

“Customers can expect to receive an Envy x2 in January, if they order today,” said a customer representative, in an email to the source.

“Customers who ordered their units on Dec. 3 or prior are expected to receive their PC by Dec. 21 at the latest. HP expects additional units to ship in January.”

The exact cause of the problem is unclear, although the InformationWeek report suggests that PC makers are struggling to build Clover Trail drivers stable enough to pass Microsoft’s Windows Hardware Quality Labs testing (WHQL). Devices must pass this certification before being offered for sale.

Talking of Intel-powered Windows 8 tablets and the status of Lenovo’s own ThinkPad 2 also looks unclear.

The tablet has twice been delayed from its original launch date of October 26 but did pass FCC two weeks ago. The slate is listed on the Microsoft Store but its availability is not listed.

TabTimes has reached out to Lenovo for a comment on the matter but is yet to hear back from the Taiwanese PC maker.

Intel-based Windows 8 tablets see spotty availability [CNET, Dec 18, 2012]

Overall availability of Intel-based Windows 8 tablets and hybrids is spotty. While products based on the Intel Z2760 from Samsung (ATIV Smart PC 500T) and Acer (W510) are already available, others from Lenovo, Dell, and HP aren’t.

They are available indeed (note that those tablets corresponf to Intel’s refernce design):
http://www.provantage.com/acer-nt-l0kaa-001~AACEN1KA.htmimage

Acer Iconia W510-1422 vs. SamsungATIV Smart PC 500T [CE Arena, Nov 29, 2012]

The Acer Iconia W510-1422 and the Samsung ATIV Smart PC-500T are two of the more serious contenders of ASUS’s Transformer Pad series. They both feature the same processing unit, the brand new  Intel® Atom™ Z2760, which is running on the Clover Trail platform – specially designed for mobile devices running Windows 8 on a 32-bit architecture. Thus, performance wise, there are literally no differences between the two tablets: same RAM size, same storage space, same graphics unit, etc. However, minor fault lines start to appear when we take into consideration screen size, battery life and portability. That’s all there is between the two gadgets. Also, they essentially cost the same: $750 at the time of this review.

http://www.excaliberpc.com/621516/samsung-ativ-smart-pc-500t.htmlimage

However, in terms of the mobility and experience features mentioned in the introduction even these devices are not ready for the market! Here are quotes supporting that statement for the Samsung device* (as this was under more scrutiny because of higher expectations):
* for the other available Z2760 based device see: Acer Iconia W510 Win 8 Tablet gets 7/10 and 16hrs in Full Test [UMPCPortal, Dec 6, 2012]

Battery Life
[from here, but a lot of other sites contain this initial specification from Samsung, curiously now removed from the Samsung site, but originally was there according to this 3d party webcache]

  • Browsing (8Hrs), Video Playback (11Hr), Charging Time (320Min), Standby Time (600min [i.e. 10 hours]) [vs. Intel’s target of ~30 Days Standby]

BATTERY 
[From Microsoft Store, note that for Acer Iconia W510 there only “up to 9 hours”]
| 2-cell lithium-polymer (up to 14.5 hours)*

Samsung Ativ Smart PC 500T: Don’t Expect Any Miracles [Gizmodo UK, Nov 15, 2012]

The battery performance varied. When using it strictly as an RT tablet, the 500T was pretty efficient, making it through a whole day. But when using a bunch of browser tabs and apps in desktop mode, it drained a lot faster.

Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T [Review] [CNET, Dec 4, 2012]

Pros

Great battery life! 8-10 hours easily,
Full sized USB port, mini HDMI port, micro SD memory port
Great screen, S pen digitizer, stereo speaker placed well, and sounds great, Windows 8 very responsive, Very peppy dual core Atom processor, yes peppy!.

Cons

Once in a while when coming out of sleep mode I have to refresh the wireless connection since it stalls with a limited connection. Windows network diagnostic handles that as well. Screens a finger print magnet, but aren’t all touch screens?

Hands-on Review: Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T [Marketnews Canada, Dec 17, 2012]

Battery life is rated at 10 hours. In practice, it seemed very good. A single charge got me through most of my testing, and didn’t dissipate over many hours of idle ‘sleep’ time.

One other oddity: the 500T doesn’t come on instantly, like an Android or iOS tablet. Instead, there’s about a ten-second pause while Windows 8 resumes from Sleep [vs. the ms level latency from connected standby given in September by Intel, as could have seen above].

Customer Reviews for Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T [Samsung US]

Nov 19, 2012 … Cons: Poor quality, Did not meet expectations, dock is unusable as it constantly disconnects, glitchy drivers = frozen pc = reboot often

Nov 29, 2012:

I was very excited to finally be able to buy this x86 Win8 tablet.
Unfortunately, the tablet has a WiFi problem that occurs after waking from sleep or a power on. Basically, it can’t connect to WiFi for about 2-3 minutes. Usually, you have to turn on/off AirPlane mode to get WiFi to work again.
For 2 weeks, I was installing every Samsung update but the issue was never fixed.
Other users have reported problems with the keyboard dock (I only had the tablet).
So, unless you want to go through a lot of frustration, wait for Samsung to resolve these issues before purchasing.

 

Dec 3, 2012 … Problems:
When I press the sleep button the tablet decides to automatically turn its self off completely. So basically I have to save everything before I turn the screen off expecting to have to turn it on from cold again. The only reason I’m not returning it because of this is how fast it boots up, but if its not fixed by the time my return date gets close it will go back.

Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T [Softpanorama, Dec 15, 2012]

The tablet is way too fresh and, unless you are a beta addict, it might be beneficial to wait a couple of months and give time to Samsung [rather Intel] to fix the bugs. So buying it in the second quarter of 2013 is better then in 2012. Currently if you want just the Samsung tablet, go for it. But avoid the tablet + keyboard combo till Q2 of 2013.

CONTINUED: Intel-based Windows 8 tablets see spotty availability [CNET, Dec 18, 2012]

Intel-based Windows 8 tablets and hybrids from the world’s two largest PC vendors, Lenovo and Hewlett-Packard, have been experiencing delays.

A tablet from Hewlett-Packard running the full version of Windows 8 is expected to finally ship to customers, though a full Win 8 tablet doesn’t appear to be imminent from Lenovo.

HP’s Envy x2 laptop-tablet hybrid “convertible” was originally slated for November 14 availability but is now expected to reach customers soon, HP said.

“Customers can expect to receive an Envy x2…in January, if they order today. Customers who ordered their units on Dec. 3 or prior are expected to receive their PC by Dec. 21 at the latest,” an HP representative told CNET via e-mail.

“HP expects additional units to ship in January,” the representative added.

The Envy x2 uses a new power-efficient dual-core “Clover Trail” Z2760 system-on-a-chip from Intel that can run the full 32-bit Windows 8. This sets it apart from Windows RT devices, such as Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet, that run a limited version of Windows 8 and are not compatible with older Windows 7 software.

Overall availability of Intel-based Windows 8 tablets and hybrids is spotty. While products based on the Intel Z2760 from Samsung (ATIV Smart PC 500T) and Acer (W510) are already available, others from Lenovo, Dell, and HP aren’t.

HP, for instance, is also prepping an ElitePad tablet using the Intel Z2760 and the full 32-bit Windows 8, but that won’t be available until late January.

And Lenovo’s ThinkPad 2 Tablet — also based on the Intel Z2760 — has been delayed since October.

A Lenovo representative told CNET in November that the ThinkPad 2 Tablet would ship to consumers during the first week of December. But that doesn’t appear to be happening. For instance, the Microsoft Store’s ThinkPad 2 Tablet page gives no indication of availability.

And calls to Microsoft Store representatives today yielded two responses. One rep said the unit wouldn’t ship until January 31 and another said there is no shipment date at all.

As of this afternoon PT, Lenovo had not responded to a request to clarify the shipment date for the ThinkPad 2 Tablet.

Dell’s Latitude 10, also built around the Intel Z2760, lists an “estimated ship date” of January 21.

Dell, HP Windows 8 ‘Atom’ Tablets Delayed Until 2013 [InformationWeek, Dec 19, 2012]

Dell Latitude 10 among Windows 8 systems not yet available, as tablet makers struggle with drivers for energy-efficient Intel Clover Trail chip.

Dell and other vendors have pushed back until January the launch of Windows 8 tablets that use a new, energy-efficient Intel chip that was supposed to put Windows devices on an even footing with the iPad and Android tablets in terms of performance and battery life, but which is apparently causing big headaches for system builders.

Dell’s Latitude 10, which runs Intel’s Atom Z2760, or “Clover Trail” chip, was, as of early Wednesday, not available for shipping until Jan. 22nd, according to the company’s Web site. Only a month ago, Dell had been advertising a pre-Christmas ship date of Dec. 12. The tablet starts at $649, features Windows 8 Pro, and is aimed at business users.

A Dell customer who contacted InformationWeek said company representatives told him last week that the Latitude 10 is delayed. The customer, who asked not to be identified, originally placed his order on Nov. 28, paid for two-day expedited shipping, and was given a mid-December delivery date. Now, Dell is telling him the system won’t be available until January.

“Dell Latitude 10 is not officially launched. As soon as it will be launched it will be sent to you,” a Dell rep told the customer via live chat on Dec. 11, according to a transcript of the session. Dell’s Web site is continuing to accept orders for the Latitude 10, and does not indicate it is available only as a preorder. A Dell spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

Dell isn’t the only vendor having trouble with Windows 8 systems built around Intel’s Clover Trail chip. Hewlett-Packard’s site shows that its Envy x2 convertible is not available until Jan. 8. The company originally said it would ship in November, within weeks of Windows 8’s launch on Oct. 26.

ASUS and Lenovo have not announced specific launch dates for their Clover Trail systems, the VivoTab Smart and ThinkPad Tablet 2, respectively. Of the top 5 PC makers, only Acer’s W510 Clover Trail tablet is available for immediate purchase, but it can only be had in limited quantities from Amazon and Microsoft’s online store.

Intel designed Clover Trail to take full advantage of Windows 8’s capabilities, including a key feature called Connected Standby. Connected Standby is supposed to give tablet users a smartphone-like experience by ensuring that their devices are always up to date with new e-mails, messages and other data, even when their systems are powered down. Clover Trail also promises all-day battery life.

But PC makers are having trouble building Clover Trail drivers that are stable enough to pass Microsoft’s Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL) testing, sources say. Under Microsoft’s licensing terms, Windows systems must receive WHQL certification before they can be offered for sale. Intel has not responded to repeated inquiries about the situation.

Cindy Shaw, an analyst with research firm DISCERN, said the delay could hurt PC makers that specialize in enterprise sales. “HP and Dell are conceding they’ve given up on the consumer, so missing the holiday season is not that big of a deal. They’re not missing that magical time of the year,” said Shaw. “But the longer it takes for businesses to get their hands on evaluation units, the longer it’s going to take to translate into enterprise sales.”

Most PC makers currently offer Windows 8 systems, such as the Dell XPS 12, that use Intel’s older Core architecture instead of Clover Trail. Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet also runs an Intel Core chip. Core packs more power than Clover Trail, but does not support Connected Standby and consumes batteries more quickly. A Microsoft spokesperson said the company could not immediately offer a comment.


5 Comments

  1. […] microservers: the Calxeda case [this same ‘Experiencing the ‘Cloud’ blog, Dec 14, 2012]- Intel’s biggest flop: at least 3-month delay in delivering the power management solution for its f… [this same ‘Experiencing the ‘Cloud’ blog, Dec 20, […]

  2. […] the announcements already made there will be even bigger trouble for the already ailing giant with Intel’s biggest flop: at least 3-month delay in delivering the power management solution for its f… [this same ‘Experiencing the Cloud’ blog, Dec 20, […]

  3. […] Intel, ugyanakkor, bukásra áll:- Intel’s biggest flop: at least 3-month delay in delivering the power management solution for its f… [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Dec 20, 2012]- Dell Latitude 10: Windows 8 Clover Trail (Intel […]

  4. […] after Intel’s biggest flop: at least 3-month delay in delivering the power management solution for its f… [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Dec 20, 2012] AND Urgent search for an Intel savior [‘Experiencing […]

  5. […] of Brian M. Krzanich as CEO and Renée J. James as president is to lead the company: – out of Intel’s biggest flop: at least 3-month delay in delivering the power management solution for its f… [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Dec 20, 2012]- then Saving Intel: next-gen Intel ultrabooks for […]

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