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Intel announces Atom processor family

Intel announces Atom processor family

Intel has officially named its Silverthorne processor and Menlow platform - they're known as the Atom processor and the Centrino Atom platform.

Intel first talked about its drive towards ultra mobility in April last year when it introduced the Silverthorne processors and the Menlow platform that would be known as 'home' for the new ultra-low power processor.

Today, Intel has finally given the processor and platform a name – the two will be known under the Atom brand name, with the processor known as the Intel Atom processor and the platform known as Intel Centrino Atom.

Silverthorne, or rather the Intel Atom processor, is based on an entirely new microarchitecture that is aimed at Mobile Internet Devices—something that Intel will be pushing heavily over the next year—but also manages to maintain compatibility with the Core microarchitecture's instruction set to ensure consumers get a familiar experience to what they would get on their home computer.

The design includes multi-threading support (previously known as HyperThreading), which Intel says will allow for better performance and increased system responsiveness. Impressively, the Silverthorne die itself—which is packed with 47 million transistors—measures less than 25mm², meaning that you can fit eleven Atom processor dies in an area the size of an American penny.

Silverthorne has a thermal design power specification of between 0.6W and 2.5W (yes, you read that right) and will scale up to 1.8GHz. At the higher-end of its power envelope, it will deliver roughly the same power as the original Pentium M processor at a fraction of the power.

Confusingly, Intel has also introduced the Diamondville processors under the same brand name. The chip manufacturer hasn't talked about this chip an awful lot, but it's derived from the Silverthorne architecture and will be available in dual- and single-core versions.

It's targeted at low-cost notebooks and desktop machines, known as netbooks and nettops respectively. According to DailyTech, the Diamondville-based Atom processors will first launch as a single core part at 1.6GHz, featuring a 533MHz front side bus, 512KB of L2 cache and a TDP of 4W.

The Centrino Atom platform will feature an Intel Atom processor, an Intel 945GSE chipset—which comes complete with integrated graphics—and a wireless radio. Intel says that, "together, these components are designed to enable the best mobile computing and Internet experience on these new devices."

You can expect to see devices based on the new Atom family coming in the second half of this year and I'm sure we'll be hearing more about Intel's MID plans out at this Spring's Intel Developer Forum in Shanghai, China.

Do you think it's good that Intel has associated the Centrino branding with its new push for ultra mobility? Discuss in the forums.

15 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
Arkanrais 3rd March 2008, 14:10 Quote
Damnit, they didn't take my advice on the name (< avatar)
anyway, this does sound interesting and would kick as$ if you could fit these into an ultra-portable the size of a PSP. now if they can hook one of these up with nVidia's ultra-portable gpu and not make you pay out the as$ for them, then I'm getting at least one (even if I only have $20 spare a week)
hawky84 3rd March 2008, 14:48 Quote
bring on the next gen eee pc!!!
The Infamous Mr D 3rd March 2008, 15:08 Quote
/confused

Ah, nope I get it now. I was thinking they'd branded the Nehalems "Atom". Nope, this is something totally different!
airchie 3rd March 2008, 15:51 Quote
These are gonna be great for HTPCs and home servers! :)

Bring it on!!! :)
DXR_13KE 3rd March 2008, 16:13 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by hawky84
bring on the next gen eee pc!!!

+1
johnmustrule 3rd March 2008, 16:55 Quote
"but also manages to maintain compatibility with the Core microarchitecture's instruction set to ensure consumers get a familiar experience to what they would get on their home computer."

-since when has a proccesor change effected my exsperiance other than speed, I don't think that at a consumer level people will be effected by the instructon set!
UncertainGod 3rd March 2008, 17:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnmustrule
"but also manages to maintain compatibility with the Core microarchitecture's instruction set to ensure consumers get a familiar experience to what they would get on their home computer."

-since when has a proccesor change effected my exsperiance other than speed, I don't think that at a consumer level people will be effected by the instructon set!

That's just their way of saying x86 compatible.
K20 3rd March 2008, 18:06 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Article


... measures less than 25mm², meaning that you can fit eleven Atom processor dies in an area the size of an American penny.

Interesting; but I thought Americans used cents. More importantly how many Silverthorne dies can you fit in a British penny?
Bindibadgi 3rd March 2008, 18:53 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by airchie
These are gonna be great for HTPCs and home servers! :)

Bring it on!!! :)

Hopefully these will be used in mini-itx boards - but the Atom (silverthorne) will be equivalent to VIA's nano-BGA C7. Both do NOT feature out of order execution, so are significantly slower than you'd expect. Obviously the Intel chip runs at almost twice the speed and it has SMT, but it'll not equate to an ULV Core 2 CPU.

Just like inexpensive VIA machines that are being sold at Walmart, Intel will do the same thing. I'm ready to get info from all sorts of people on EeePC clones in the next few days featuring these processors.
Smilodon 3rd March 2008, 19:57 Quote
Am I the only one that find the name pretty silly?

It really doesn't stand out in any way, and sounds a bit... childish.

What's next? "Biohazard"?
K20 3rd March 2008, 22:32 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smilodon
Am I the only one that find the name pretty silly?

It really doesn't stand out in any way, and sounds a bit... childish.

Arguably this is Intel's most logical naming choice since Core Solo and Core Duo. Atom = small, sounds reasonably accurate although unimaginative.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smilodon

What's next? "Biohazard"?

No Intel's amazing 45nm processors are good for the environment as they're halogen and lead free and contain less carbon (OK the carbon part isn't true but they'll put consume less electricity and as such less carbon compared to 65nm so why Intel didn't mention this in one of their marketing slides is beyond me). After all the number one thing I look for in a processor is an assurance that an alchemist can't experiment with it, oh wait they mentioned that (repeatedly) :'( I can't turn my processor into gold.
The_Beast 3rd March 2008, 23:44 Quote
Sounds pretty cool

except the name :(
Omnituens 4th March 2008, 02:00 Quote
UP AND ATOM!
airchie 4th March 2008, 02:38 Quote
groan! :D
Splynncryth 4th March 2008, 04:18 Quote
The chip really is aimed at a not-quite-a-full-blown-pc market that may exsist somewhere between a laptop and PDA. There are some pretty interesting concepts floating around out there, one of my favorites being the4 'bookmark' concept (though I can't find the !@#$ link, bookmark is far too common a word). There is still a question of usability though, what can I do to make use of the PC features?
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