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Intel packs power in sub-25mm 'Atom' chip

Posted: 04 Mar 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:low-power processors? mobile Internet devices? Internet-centric computers? Atom brand?

A family of low-power processors designed specifically for mobile Internet devices (MIDs) and Internet-centric computers have been launched by Intel Corp. under the Atom brand.

The simple and affordable Internet-centric computers arriving later this year represent an opportunity to grow the market for Intel silicon, using the Intel Atom processor as the foundation.

The company also announced the Intel Centrino Atom processor technology brand for MID platforms, consisting of multiple chips that enable the best Internet experience in a pocketable device.

New microarchitecture
The Intel Atom processor is based on an entirely new microarchitecture designed specifically for small devices and low power, while maintaining the Intel Core 2 Duo instruction set compatibility consumers are accustomed to when using a standard PC and the Internet. The design also includes support for multiple threads for better performance and increased system responsiveness. All of this on a chip that measures less than 25mm?, making it Intel's smallest and lowest power processor yet. Up to 11 Intel Atom processor diethe tiny slivers of silicon packed with 47 million transistors each would fit in an area the size of an American penny.

Atomic specs
These new chips, previously codenamed Silverthorne and Diamondville, will be manufactured on Intel's industry-leading 45nm process with hi-k metal gate technology. The chips have a thermal design power (TPD) specification in the 0.6-2.5W range and scale to 1.8GHz speeds depending on customer need. By comparison, today's mainstream mobile Core 2 Duo processors have a TDP in the 35W range.

"This is our smallest processor built with the world's smallest transistors," said Intel executive VP and chief sales and marketing officer Sean Maloney. "This small wonder is a fundamental new shift in design, small yet powerful enough to enable a big Internet experience on these new devices. We believe it will unleash new innovation across the industry."

With personal computing increasingly going mobile and the computer industry rapidly developing new classes of products to connect the next billion people to the Internet, the Intel Atom processor offers customers the unique ability to innovate around the new low-power design. In addition to the MID opportunity, Intel believes the demand for a new category of low-cost, Internet-centric mobile computing devices dubbed "netbooks" and basic Internet-centric desktop PCs dubbed "nettops," will grow substantially over the next several years. The Intel Atom processor is perfectly suited to meet these new market segments.

Intel said the Intel Atom processor also has potential for future revenue opportunities in consumer electronic devices, embedded applications and thin clients.

Centrino Atom
The Intel Centrino Atom processor technology brand represents Intel's best technology for MIDs. Formerly codenamed "Menlow," Intel Centrino Atom processor technology includes the Intel Atom processor, a low-power companion chip with integrated graphics, a wireless radio, and thinner and lighter designs. Together, these components are designed to enable the best mobile computing and Internet experience on these new devices.

Intel is one of the exhibitors in the upcoming IIC-China 2008.

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