By Noel Randewich
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Samsung Electronics has chosen an Intel Corp processor to power a new version of one of its top-tier Android tablets, a source with knowledge of the plans told Reuters, in a major victory for the U.S. chipmaker, which is struggling to find its footing in the mobile market.
Samsung has chosen Intel's Clover Trail+ mobile chip for at least one version of its Galaxy Tab 3 10.1, which competes with Apple Inc's iPad, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the specifications have not been announced.
Samsung has previously used chips designed with energy-efficient technology from the UK's ARM Holdings for its best-selling mobile devices. It employs Intel processors for its line of Microsoft Windows "ATIV" tablets -- a much smaller market compared with devices based on Google Inc's Android.
Samsung will unveil new ATIV tablets using Intel chips at a June 20 event in London, said the source, as well as an additional person familiar with the event. It was unclear whether the Galaxy Tab would debut at the same event.
The Asian electronics giant's decision to begin using Intel in a marquee Android device counts as a coup for the US chipmaker as it races to establish itself in a mobile market it was slow initially to recognize and invest in.
It was unclear whether the Samsung, the world's largest manufacturer of tablets after Apple, plans other versions of the 10-inch Galaxy Tab carrying its own, or other companies', processors.
A spokeswoman for South Korea-based Samsung declined to comment. An Intel spokesman also declined to comment.
The use of an Intel Clover Trail+ chip in the upcoming tablet was first reported on by VentureBeat and other blogs last week.
Intel has called the shots in the personal computer industry for decades, but was slow to make chips that appealed to makers of smartphones and tablets as the market boomed following Apple's iPhone in 2007 and iPad in 2010.
Applications processors based on technology from ARM and designed by Qualcomm Inc, Samsung and Nvidia now dominate a market that research firm Strategy Analytics estimated could hit $25 billion by 2016 versus $9 billion in 2011.
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, who took the helm this month, has stated that one of his top goals is to expand the Silicon Valley chipmaker's footprint in mobile devices.
WAKING UP TO MOBILE
Booming sales of tablets have also eaten away at Intel's core PC-based market. IDC estimates that tablet shipments worldwide will eclipse laptops this year, and personal computer sales will slide 8 percent in 2013.
Intel is rushing to adapt its powerful PC chips to use less energy and work more efficiently in mobile devices. It has so far scored a few minor "design wins", getting its processors into a few mobile devices.
For instance, an Intel mobile processor was used in a version of Motorola's Razr smartphone launched last year in markets like Argentina, Brazil, Britain, France, Germany and Mexico. Intel has yet to launch chips capable of supporting high-speed Long Term Evolution technology, a major barrier to competing in mobile devices aimed at the United States, where the standard is becoming increasingly common.
Samsung has nearly 18 percent of the market for tablets, according to IDC.
(Additional reporting by Miyoung Kim in Seoul; Editing by Leslie Adler and David Gregorio)