Clover Trail: Last Stand of Wintel

For ages, every chip from Intel has worked pretty well with GNU/Linux thanks to Intel’s contribution of FLOSS drivers. Dredged up from the dungeons of Wintel is a plan to release a new Atom SoC (System on a Chip) with integrated graphics which will be “8”-only. This means millions of products will be shipped from mainstream OEMs which for the first time since the early days of Linux will not work with GNU/Linux. These Clover Trail Atoms are aimed at tablets but Intel will likely sell to any OEM who wants the latest advantages of Intel’s technology. A lot of thin clients run GNU/Linux and OEMs are making a lot more these days. Whether this is really a scheme of M$ to lock out GNU/Linux or a by-product of rapid technological change, Intel says it’s a “8”-only chip.

I think this is a stupid move by Intel. Unless M$ is paying them a huge bundle for this move it does not make sense as a business. If M$ is paying them a huge bundle for this move it could be Intel is becoming involved in the biggest anti-competitive scheme of M$ since Netscape. What they could not do by FUD, arm-twisting, exclusive dealing etc. they now intend to do by having hardware that won’t run GNU/Linux.

I expect small expensive computers will fail and Intel will lose a bundle on this line of chips. At worst, if there is no legal intervention to prevent this, Wintel will have a little more business for the next few months until the next chip comes down the pipe with full GNU/Linux support.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
This entry was posted in technology. Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Clover Trail: Last Stand of Wintel

  1. ssorbom says:

    Mr. Pogson,
    Have you read Bruce Perens’ take on this?
    I kind of suspected that intel wasn’t handling the graphics end… Heck it sounds like their hand is currently being forced in a direction they dont want to go:
    “The next step for the Atom architecture is Valley View, which does away with PowerVR, replacing it with Intel’s own grapics. Intel promises good Linux support for this architecture, and it will use smaller transistors, thus providing a speed and power efficiency gain.”
    But Intel isn’t the only one stuck with MS:
    “AMD’s “Hondo” processor is being marketed as “Windows Only” too. Microsoft must be paying both manufacturers a lot for this. However, AMD is not saying the chip won’t run Linux, and is indeed preparing Linux support, though not for Android.”
    Anyway, Its kind of old news by now, I just thought it might be of interest

  2. eug wrote, “There have been rumors that Intel’s new Atom CPU, Clover Trail, would only support Windows 8, but not Android or Linux.”

    Those weren’t rumours but right from Intel’s lips:

  3. no audio/video drivers
  4. no power management
  5. The only thing changed is that yes, they do admit it will run headless and flat out. Not the best for desktop/tablet usage.