Intel has just discontinued its Atom processors for mobile devices. The death of the Atom chips, with codenames SoFIA and Broxton, was confirmed by its spokeswoman on April 29.

The move to cut these Atom processors is viewed as part of Intel's plan to restructure its operations. This also comes hot on the heels of the firm's announcement to layoff 12,000 employees.

The resources dedicated to the two Atom chips will now be focused on products that can advance the firm's strategy and generate higher returns, the spokeswoman said.

Dropping SoFIA and Broxton leaves the company with only Apollo Lake Atom chip, replacing Cherry Trail — Intel's Atom X5 line of tablet chips. Apollo Lake is aimed for PC-like slates along with hybrids. The spokeswoman said that the firm no longer views tablets as a standalone segment in the market, and Intel's product roadmap shows that.

The company assures customers who own tablets that are fitted with the discontinued chips that it will keep on supporting them.

"We will continue to support our tablet customers with SoFIA 3G/3GR, Bay Trail and Cherry Trail now, and later with Apollo Lake and some SKUs from our Core processor family," said the spokeswoman.

What Does This Mean For The Rumored Surface Phone?

PCWorld says that fans of Windows 10 Mobile have long been clamoring for a phone that could run native Win32 legacy applications and the new Universal Windows Platform. Many fans assume this requires a handset that runs an Intel Atom chip.

The company's latest decision kills off this option, it seems.

"Unless Microsoft has some other trick up its sleeve, the most compelling justification for a Win32-based Surface phone appears to have died," says the report.

Paul Thurrott, a tech writer, thinks the cancellation of Intel's Atom chips has "big ramifications" for the speculated Surface phone. He believes that Microsoft could launch a Surface handset running an ARM processor, instead.

"Thus, an Intel Surface phone is not happening," he says. "What about a Surface 4? I suppose Microsoft could choose the more expensive Core m chipset now, and up the price while making it a more premium device."

The company's decision to drop SoFIA and Broxton was initially reported by analyst Patrick Moorhead via Forbes, and confirmed by PCWorld and IDG News Service.

Photo: Jiahui Huang | Flickr

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