Subject: General Tech, Processors | May 6, 2013 - 02:34 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: silvermont, merrifield, Intel, Bay Trail, atom
The news today is all about shrinking the Atom, both in process size and power consumption. Indeed The Tech Report heard talk of milliwatts and SoC's which shows the change of strategy Intel is having with Atom from small footprint HTPCs to POS and other ultra-low power applications. Hyperthreading has been dropped and Out of Order processing has been brought in which makes far more sense for the new niche Atom is destined for.
"Since their debut five years ago, Intel's Atom microprocessors have relied on the same basic CPU core. Next-gen Atoms will be based on the all-new Silvermont core, and we've taken a closer look at its underlying architecture."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- AMD says HSA will cut latency bottleneck in GPU processing @ The Inquirer
- Redmond probes new IE 8 vulnerability @ The Register
- Not Like a Fine Wine: Windows Activation Still a Piece of Junk After All These Years @ Techgage
- Acer unveils new ultrabooks, notebooks and tablet @ DigiTimes
- Angering hippies and financing evil @ The Tech Report
- BlackBerry 10 passes US defence department tests @ The Register
- The TR Podcast 133: Iris graphics and the Radeon HD 7990
A much needed architecture shift
It has been almost exactly five years since the release of the first Atom branded processors from Intel, starting with the Atom 230 and 330 based on the Diamondville design. Built for netbooks and nettops at the time, the Atom chips were a reaction to a unique market that the company had not planned for. While the early Atoms were great sellers, they were universally criticized by the media for slow performance and sub-par user experiences.
Atom has seen numerous refreshes since 2008, but they were all modifications of the simplistic, in-order architecture that was launched initially. With today's official release of the Silvermont architecture, the Atom processors see their first complete redesign from the ground up. With the focus on tablets and phones rather than netbooks, can Intel finally find a foothold in the growing markets dominated by ARM partners?
I should note that even though we are seeing the architectural reveal today, Intel doesn't plan on having shipping parts until late in 2013 for embedded, server and tablets and not until 2014 for smartphones. Why the early reveal on the design then? I think that pressure from ARM's designs (Krait, Exynos) as well as the upcoming release of AMD's own Kabini is forcing Intel's hand a bit. Certainly they don't want to be perceived as having fallen behind and getting news about the potential benefits of their own x86 option out in the public will help.
Silvermont will be the first Atom processor built on the 22nm process, leaving the 32nm designs of Saltwell behind it. This also marks the beginning of a new change in the Atom design process, to adopt the tick/tock model we have seen on Intel's consumer desktop and notebook parts. At the next node drop of 14nm, we'll see see an annual cadence that first focuses on the node change, then an architecture change at the same node.
By keeping Atom on the same process technology as Core (Ivy Bridge, Haswell, etc), Intel can put more of a focus on the power capabilities of their manufacturing.
Intel is a yearly presence at CES and typically have a few interesting things to talk about. Last year we got to see Will.I.Am on stage telling us all about how the Ultrabook has changed his artistic life. Oddly enough, things have not changed dramatically for the company. Ultrabooks have inherited the latest Ivy Bridge processors which were released last Spring. Medfield is still the primary cell phone processor for Intel.
The first area they covered is the cellphone market. Medfield is still the go-to processor and Intel claims that it has better performance and battery life than even the latest Qualcomm products. Intel is introducing a new reference phone for emerging markets around the world codenamed Lexington. Based on the Z2420 and the XMM6265 modem, this budget smartphone will be Android based with certain optimizations instituted by Intel in collaboration with Google.
Intel has achieved more wins throughout the next few months. Acer, Safaricom, and Lava will all be announcing new smart phones based on Intel silicon. Details of these products will be released later in the quarter.
Medfield will be replaced by Clover Tail+ and then further on with their next gen 22 nm product.
Subject: Processors | January 6, 2013 - 05:09 PM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: valleyview, low power, Intel, Bay Trail, atom
When the original Intel Atom hit the scene, it was a reasonably large success for Intel with the massive explosion of netbooks. The original design was very simplistic, but was fairly power efficient. The weak link of the original Atom was the 945 chipset graphics that were not only underpowered, but were based on a relatively power hungry desktop chipset. The eventual competition from AMD featured a next generation low power core based on the Bobcat architecture which featured a modern graphics core that was more than adequate for most scenarios.
Intel never stood still, but their advancement of the low power cores was slow as compared to the massive leaps and bounds we saw from the original Core architecture in 2006 on the desktop and server markets. Typically these products lagged the desktop products in terms of process nodes, but they continued to advance these cores little by little.
Leap forward a few years and we saw the eventual demise of the netbook and the massive uptake of mobile computing. Mobile computing was primarily comprised of tablets and smartphones. Intel was late to the party as compared to products from Qualcomm, Samsung, and NVIDIA. A fire was lit under the Atom group at Intel, as the competition had far surpassed the company in ultra-mobile parts.
Happily for those of us paying attention, the 3D Center Forum has released some very interesting slides about the 22 nm generation of Atom products and the platforms they will be integrated into. Valleyview is the SoC while Bay Trail is the platform.
Valleyview is based on Intel’s 22 nm process and will be a next generation Atom processor with a multitude of new features. It will be a SoC as it will no longer require a traditional southbridge. It will have improved graphics as compared to the most recent Atom processors. While the SoC will feature USB 3.0, it will not embrace SATA-6G or PCI-E 3.0. The CPU will go up to quad core units that will be 50% to 100% faster than current parts. These new chips will also introduce a boost functionality (think desktop Turbo Boost) that will run the frequency equal to or greater than 2.7 GHz.
Power is of course the primary concern, and these products will be offered from 3 watts and below (Bay Trail T) and up to 12 watts (Bay Trail D) These products will not be competing with the Haswell products which are rumored to get around 10 watts at the very lowest.
While Intel has been slow to react to the mobile push, they are starting to get that ball rolling. It will be very interesting to see if they can move fast enough to outrun and outwit the ARM based competition, not to mention AMD’s latest 28 nm products that will be released in the first half of 2013.