Intel's new Atom processor
March 3, 2008 Recognizing that personal computing is increasingly going mobile and that the computer industry is rapidly developing new classes of products to connect the next billion people to the Internet, Intel have announced the Intel Atom processor - a new family of low-power processors designed specifically for mobile Internet devices (MIDs) and a new class of simple and affordable Internet-centric computers arriving later this year. The company also announced the Intel Centrino Atom processor technology for MID platforms, consisting of multiple chips that enable the best Internet experience in a pocketable device.
The Intel Atom processor is based on an entirely new micro-architecture 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 25 mm², making it Intel’s smallest and lowest power processor yet. These new chips, previously codenamed Silverthorne and Diamondville, will be manufactured in Intel’s 45nm process with hi-k metal gate technology. The chips have a thermal design power (TDP) specification in 0.6-2.5 watt 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 35-watt range. The Intel Centrino Atom processor technology, formerly codenamed “Menlow,” includes the Intel Atom processor, a low-power companion chip with integrated graphics, a wireless radio, and thinner and lighter designs.
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 and the Intel Atom processor is designed to meet the needs of 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.
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