Intel plans 15nm Atoms

September 17, 2010 // 10:17 a.m.

Tags: #15nm #15nm-atom #15nm-intel #22nm #atom #cpu #intel #intel-atom #roadmap

Intel has unveiled a roadmap for the Atom processor which shows the netbook- and latterly mobile-oriented chip shrinking to a 15nm process.

Unveiled at the Intel Developer Forum, and first spotted by CNET, the roadmap suggests that existing 45nm and 32nm product lines will give way in the future to a whole raft of chips based around a 22nm process.

After exploiting that for a while, Intel plans to move the whole kaboodle over to a tiny 15nm process, while at the same time increasing the number of Atom chips across the entire range.

At the 45nm process size, there were four Atom processor families: the N-series, designed for use in netbooks; the D-series, aimed at nettops and low-power desktops; the Z-series for handheld devices; and the CE series, which found its home in consumer electronics like set-top boxes and interactive TV systems.

The move to 32nm added another line to the Atom range: the specialised E-series, designed for embedded computing systems.

According to Intel's roadmap, all five product lines will be making the transition to 22nm and 15nm in ever-increasing volume - but unfortunately, if somewhat predictably, Intel hasn't given a timescale on when the shrunken chips will be hitting the market.

Instead, the company has placed a simple arrow at the bottom of the graph, pointing to the right, labelled "Forecast," helpfully ruling out the possibility that it was to develop time travel technology and launch the 15nm chips some time in the 1990s.

A process shrink will help increase speeds and reduce power usage - something that Intel will be keen to do as soon as possible in order to better compete with low-power chip expert ARM.

Are you impressed that Intel is looking to 15nm already, or does a slide prove nothing about how prepared the company is to face the challenges of such a small process size? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

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