Smaller Windows tablets and faster chips on tap for Computex

Acer may announce Windows tablets with smaller displays while ultrabooks will be unveiled by Asus, MSI and others

The 2013 Computex kicks off in Taipei next week

The 2013 Computex kicks off in Taipei next week

Want to find out what's next in smartphones, tablets and PCs? The latest trends in hardware will be on display at the giant Computex trade show, which kicks off in Taipei next week.

Computex is a treasure chest for hardware lovers, providing a glimpse of technologies that are vying to shape the next wave in computing. Smaller Windows tablets, faster chips and new styles of laptop-tablet hybrids are all expected to be on show, along with high-resolution 4K displays and the latest in motherboards, memory modules and other components.

There may also be evidence of a price war in Android tablets, as chip makers Intel and ARM battle for the low end of the market. Intel is pushing its upcoming low-power Atom chip, code-named Bay Trail, into tablets priced from US$200 to $400. Most tablets of all kinds today run on ARM-based processors.

The biggest news will be Intel's announcement of its new Core chips, code-named Haswell, which will drive a new wave of laptops, tablets and hybrid PCs. Intel says Haswell offers a 50 percent increase in battery life and up to twice the graphics performance over laptops running its predecessor, Ivy Bridge, which was released last year.

Acer will announce Haswell PCs and perhaps a new small-screen Windows tablet based on an Intel chip. Asustek, MSI and Dell are also expected to announce PC products at the show, while Hewlett-Packard has already announced its upcoming lineup of Haswell PCs. The world's largest PC maker, Lenovo, did not participate at last year's Computex, which is primarily a showcase for Taiwanese vendors, and will likely not appear this year.

Intel will also shed some light on Bay Trail, and perhaps show tablet designs based on the upcoming chip. Intel's chips are used in about 15 tablets, a number the company hopes to increase with Bay Trail, which will be in tablets and PCs by the end of this year. With PC shipments falling, Intel hopes Haswell and Bay Trail will bridge the gap between laptops and red-hot tablets.

Intel's competitors will also be present. ARM is expected to announce new products for smartphones and tablets at the show. Advanced Micro Devices will show tablets, laptops and hybrids based on its latest chips, known as Temash and Kabini, which are based on the Jaguar CPU core. Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One also have AMD chips based on Jaguar.

A small army of lesser known hardware makers will be at Computex showing inexpensive tablets and smartphones. Not many of those "white box" products reach U.S. or European shores, but the companies hope to score orders from technology buyers from developing countries. After Apple, the group of "other" tablet vendors -- mainly small companies -- were the second largest group of tablet sellers during the first quarter of 2013, according to IDC.

There will also be chatter around the so-called Internet of things, where everyday objects such as smart meters and refrigerators are wired with microcontrollers and sensors that can extract, share and deliver information. Marvell and Qualcomm make ARM-based chips for embedded devices that fit into the category, and the companies are expected to talk about the emerging market.

The show is also a giant bazaar for component buyers, and new motherboards from Gigabyte and power supplies from companies like Thermaltake and Antec will also be shown.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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Tags intelprocessorsDellhardware systemsconsumer electronicscomputexmsiComponentsAdvanced Micro DevicesAsustek Computer

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Agam Shah

IDG News Service
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