A Whole New Atom Family
This past spring I spent some time with Intel at its offices in Santa Clara to learn about a brand new architecture called Silvermont. Built for and targeted at low power platforms like tablets and smartphones, Silvermont was not simply another refresh of the aging Atom processors that were all based on Pentium cores from years ago; instead Silvermont was built from the ground up for low power consumption and high efficiency to compete against the juggernaut that is ARM and its partners. My initial preview of the Silvermont architecture had plenty of detail about the change to an out-of-order architecture, the dual-core modules that comprise it and the power optimizations included.
Today, during the annual Intel Developer Forum held in San Francisco, we are finally able to reveal the remaining details about the new Atom processors based on Silvermont, code named Bay Trail. Not only do we have new information about the designs, but we were able to get our hands on some reference tablets integrating Bay Trail and the new Atom Z3000 series of SoCs to benchmark and compare to offerings from Qualcomm, NVIDIA and AMD.
A Whole New Atom Family
It should be surprise to anyone that the name “Intel Atom Processor” has had a stigma attached to it almost since its initial release during the netbook craze. It was known for being slow and hastily put together though it was still a very successful product in terms of sales. With each successive release and update, Diamondville to Pineview to Cedarview, Atom was improved but only marginally so. Even with Medfield and Clover Trail the products were based around that legacy infrastructure and it showed. Tablets and systems based on Clover Trail saw only moderate success and lukewarm reviews.
With Silvermont the Atom brand gets a second chance. Some may consider it a fifth or sixth chance, but Intel is sticking with the name. Silvermont as an architecture is incredibly flexible and will find its way into several Intel products like Avoton, Bay Trail and Merrifield and in segments from the micro-server to smartphones to convertible tablets. Not only that, but Intel is aware that Windows isn’t the only game out there anymore and the company will support the architecture across Linux, Android and Windows environments.
Atom has been in tablets for some time now, starting in September of last year with Clover Trail deigns being announced during IDF. In February we saw the initial Android-based options also filter out, again based on Clover Trail. They were okay, but really only stop-gaps to prove that Intel was serious about the space. The real test will be this holiday season with Bay Trail at the helm.
While we always knew these Bay Trail platforms were going be branded as Atom we now have the full details on the numbering scheme and productization of the architecture. The Atom Z3700 series will consist of quad-core SoCs with Intel HD graphics (the same design as the Core processor series though with fewer compute units) that will support Windows and Android operating systems. The Atom Z3600 will be dual-core processors, still with Intel HD graphics, targeted only at the Android market.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 10, 2013 - 01:38 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tablet, smartphone, LTE, Intel, idf 2013, idf, Bay Trail, 22nm
This year at the Intel Developer Forum, Intel is announcing a slew of new products. Among the fray is a sneak peek at some of the mobile devices that will be utilizing the company's Bay Trail Atom SoCs.
The first device Intel showed off was a small Lenovo branded tablet that is likely the Intel-powered alternative to the current ARM-powered S5000 that was announced at IFA 2013 in Berlin. The Intel powered tablet is using a Bay Trail Atom SoC.
The mysteriously specc'd Lenovo tablet is not the only kit to use Bay Trail, however. Intel claims that there will be a number of new tablets on the way, including models that will be available for under $100 in time for this holiday season. Of course, beyond that specs were not announced.
Intel also showed off a new prototype smartphone that is powered by a new 22nm SoC. Ryan speculates that the chip is an Intel Merrifield-based SoC which is a mobile architecure derived from Silvermont. The company claims that the move to a 22nm manufacturing process for these mobile chips results in a 50% battery life improvement. Impressive, if those numbers hold true!
The smartphone further features an LTE radio, and Intel shared a speed test of the LTE modem during the conference. Today, the smartphone uses LTE for data and 3G for voice calls, but by the end of the year products will be able to use the LTE radio for both data and voice connections.
Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more IDF good-ness as it develops!
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 9, 2013 - 03:14 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Windows 8.1, toshiba, tablet, skype, microsoft, Intel, ifa 2013, Bay Trail, atom
Toshiba has launched a new 8-inch tablet called the Encore at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin) consumer electronics show in Berlin, Germany. The upcoming tablet is an 8-inch device measuring 10.68mm thick and weighing 479 grams (~1.06 pounds). It runs the full version of Windows 8.1 and is coming in November.
The Encore has an 8-inch 1280 x 800 multi-touch HFFS display surrounded by a shiny black bezel. There is a 2MP webcam, Windows button, and Toshiba logo on the front face. The back of the tablet has rounded edges and corners. It has a silver-colored finish and houses another Toshiba logo and an 8MP main camera. In addition to the webcam, the Encore tablet has stereo speakers and two microphones (for noise cancelation). IO includes a Micro SD card slot, micro HDMI video output, and micro USB interfaces.
Toshiba has opted for Intel's latest Bay Trail Atom SoCs to power its 8-inch Windows tablet. Specifically, Toshiba has packed a quad core Bay Trail SoC, 2GB of system memory, 32GB of internal storage. Internal sensors include a gyroscope, accelerometer, and GPS. Further, the Encore features a dual band 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi radio. According to Toshiba, the tablet exhibits "exceptional battery life," but beyond that the company has not released exact numbers.
The Encore will come with Windows 8.1 pre-installed along with Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013 and Xbox SmartGlass. Naturally, user-accessible internal storage will be limited due to the size of Windows 8.1. Luckily, users will be able to add additional storage via a Micro SD card. The tablet is Skype certified, as well.
The Toshiba Encore tablet will be available for purchase in November for $329.
Subject: Processors | July 12, 2013 - 10:06 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Intel, BGA, Bay Trail, haswell, roadmap
There has been a ton of BGA processor stories over the past year, with the most recent being that Intel will not be releasing the BGA-only 14nm Broadwell processors next year. It is not all bad news for BGA fans though, because Intel is reportedly introducing new BGA versions of Haswell-based chips late this year and in the first half of 2014.
According to a leaked road-map, Intel will release three new Bay Trail based BGA chips under the Pentium and Celeron brands by Q4 2013. Additionally, next year the company will launch three high performance BGA-only Haswell-based processors.
On the low end, Intel will launch three new Bay Trail-D based processors. The J1750 and J1850 will be Celerons while the J2850 will have Pentium branding. The specifications are available in the chart below.
|Base Clockspeed||Cores / Threads||Cache||GPU||GPU Clockspeed|
|Pentium J2850||2.4 GHz||4 / 4||2 MB||Intel HD||688 / 792 MHz|
|Celeron J1850||2.0 GHz||4 / 4||2 MB||Intel HD||688 / 792 MHz|
|Celeron J1750||2.4 GHz||2 / 2||2 MB||Intel HD||688 / 750 MHz|
For the enthusiast crowd that favors small systems (like Intel’s NUC), the company is releasing three new Haswell-based BGA processors under its Core i5 and Core i7 branding. Specifications for these high end chips are located in the chart below. Interestingly, these Haswell chips in a BGA package come with Intel's much faster Iris 5200 processor graphics. A high end desktop CPU SKU with Intel's GT3e (GT3 GPU with embedded memory) still eludes enthusiasts, however despite the BGA packaging. Note that the BGA Core processors are not coming until at least next year, according to the roadmap (which does note that dates are subject to change).
|Base Clockspeed||Cores / Threads||Cache||GPU||GPU Clockspeed|
|Core i7 4770R||3.2 GHz||4 / 8||6 MB||Intel Iris 5200||1300 MHz|
|Core i5 4670R||3.0 GHz||4 / 4||4 MB||Intel Iris 5200||1300 MHz|
|Core i5 4570R||2.7 GHz||4 / 4||4 MB||Intel Iris 5200||1150 MHz|
There has definitely been resistance against Intel’s BGA lineups by the enthusiast crowd, for fear that customization and DIY abilities would be hampered and that BGA would take over and displace LGA (socketed CPUs). In this particular case though, I think the new BGA processors are a good thing and so long as there continues to be LGA options for the DIY and enthusiast crowd, I look forward to seeing what platforms these new BGA chips are used in and what motherboard manufacturers offer with them (if they are even offered at retail at all, and not just to OEMs).
I think a BGA version of a desktop CPU with Intel's fastest GT3e processor graphics would actually be welcome since it appears that an LGA version is out of the question, and would be one way to sway desktop users over to Intel's BGA strategy and have them be open to similar options in future chips, such as Broadwell in 2015.
Subject: General Tech | July 11, 2013 - 02:06 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: podcast, video, frame rating, z87, mpower, msi, Bay Trail, celeron, atom, pentium
PC Perspective Podcast #259 - 07/11/2013
Join us this week as we discuss the MSI Z87 MPower Motherboard, Mobile Frame Rating, Intel Bay Trail and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom and Allyn Malventano
Program length: 1:14:34
Week in Review:
0:03:30 MSI Z87 MPOWER Motherboard
News items of interest:
0:43:40 BayTrail benchmarks leak
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Allyn: Samsung 840 Pro 512GB for $425 at Buy.com (get it fast)
1-888-38-PCPER or firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: General Tech | July 8, 2013 - 02:41 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: valleyview, SoC, silvermont, pentium, Intel, celeron, Bay Trail, atom
A leaked Intel lineup reveals that the company's upcoming Bay Trail processors will also fall under not only the traditional Atom branding, but the Pentium and Celeron brands as well. The new lineup includes Bay Trail-D, Bay Trail-I, and Bay Trail M processors (note that Valleyview is the CPU codename, Bay Trail is the platform codename, with the CPU based on Intel's 22nm Silvermont architecture). The Bay Trail SoCs, which are based on the company's new 22nm Silvermont micro-architecture, include five processors in the Atom family, two in the Pentium family, and five processors that are part of the Celeron family.
All five of the Atom branded processors are Bay Trail-I chips. The leaked Atom lineup includes the following SKUs.
- Atom E3810 (Bay Trail-I): Single core at 1.46 GHz with 400 MHz GPU and 5W TDP
- Atom E3821 (Bay Trail-I): Dual core at 1.33 GHz with 533 MHz GPU and 6W TDP
- Atom E3822 (Bay Trail-I): Dual core at 1.46 GHz with 667 MHz GPU and 7W TDP
- Atom E3823 (Bay Trail-I): Dual core at 1.75 GHz with 792 MHz GPU and 8W TDP
- Atom E3840 (Bay Trail-I): Quad core at 1.91 GHz with 792 MHz GPU and 10W TDP
Further, there will be one Bay Trail-M and one Bay Trail-D Silvermont-based CPU under the Pentium brand. Specifications on those two chips are below.
- Pentium N3510 (Bay Trail-M): Quad core at 2 GHz with 750 MHz GPU and 7.5W TDP (4.5W SDP)
- Pentium J2850 (Bay Trail-D): Quad core at 2.41 GHz with 792 MHz GPU and 10W TDP
Finally, the new Bay Trail-M and Bay Trail-D SoCs under the Celeron brand includes two quad cores and three dual core CPUs.
According to this PDF, the N2805, N2810, and N2910 Celeron CPUs will have an MSRP of $132, though it seems as though the N2805 should be cheaper than that since it has much lower specifications than the other two. The new Celeron-branded chips have the following specifications.
- Celeron J1750 (Bay Trail-D): Dual core at 2.41 GHz with 792 MHz GPU and 10W TDP
- Celeron J1850 (Bay Trail-D): Quad core at 2 GHz with 792 MHz GPU and 10W TDP
- Celeron N2805 (Bay Trail-M): Dual core at 1.46 GHz with 667 MHz GPU and 4.5W TDP (sub-2.5W SDP)
- Celeron N2810 (Bay Trail-M): Dual core at 2 GHz with 756 MHz GPU and 7.5W TDP (4.5W SDP)
- Celeron N2910 (Bay Trail-M): Quad core at 1.6 GHz with 756 MHz GPU and 7.5W TDP (4.5W SDP)
Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more information on Bay Trail and Intel's first OoOE Atom micro-architecture as it develops.
- Intel Silvermont Architecture Updates Atom for Phones and Tablets @ PC Perspective
- Intel Launches Low-Power, High-Performance Silvermont Microarchitecture @ Intel Newsroom
- Intel's Bay Trail (-T) can ARM Wrestle. Leaked Benchmarks @ PC Perspective
Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | July 5, 2013 - 03:50 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: qualcomm, Intel, Bay Trail-T, Bay Trail
Bay Trail is still seasons away but engineering samples are, and this should be no surprise, already in use at least for research and development purposes. Someone, somewhere down the line, decided to run a benchmark which was posted online. AnTuTu, the benchmark utilized, measures a spread of factors including memory, integer performance, floating point performance, 3D performance, and so forth. Unfortunately it does also include some non-CPU/GPU factors in its score, albeit barely, so best take it with a grain of salt.
Image Credit: The Droid Guy
The Silvermont-based chip, clocked at an... actually quite modest 1101 MHz, received a synthetic score of 43416. To put that in comparison: arguably the fastest ARM processor on the market, the Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800, tends to find itself with a score around the 30,000-32,000 range which is about 27-31% slower than Intel. The very popular albeit soon deprecated Nexus 7, powered by the Tegra 3, scores 12726.
Personally, I am getting a little flashback of the Intel vs. AMD battle about 8 years ago. We seem to be close to a Conroe (Core 2 Duo) vs. AMD Athlon 64 FX point between Intel and ARM. Intel eclipsed the AMD Athlon 64
FX-57 (update: I meant FX-62) and kept throwing more money at research than AMD could possibly afford. Unless ARM can severely undercut Bay Trail, Intel could follow past trends and simply bury their competitors with tens of billions in capital investment until their products are so far ahead that consumers default to Intel products.
If history repeats itself, this leaves Qualcomm and others in a difficult position. The solution seems to be either to tread water in a price point that Intel ignores or to collectively dump money into ARM and run the "out-research Intel" treadmill. Remember, this is a company who will dump twice AMD's revenue into their Research and Development year-over-year to keep ahead. Unlike Intel's GPU efforts, which did not seem like a problem that cash could solve alone, they know how to make processors.
I would not make business decisions under the assumption x86 will keep Intel hobbled indefinitely.
An new era for computing? Or, just a bit of catching up?
Early Tuesday, at 2am for viewers in eastern North America, Intel performed their Computex 2013 keynote to officially kick off Haswell. Unlike ASUS from the night prior, Intel did not announce a barrage of new products; the purpose is to promote future technologies and the new products of their OEM and ODM partners. In all, there was a pretty wide variety of discussed topics.
Intel carried on with the computational era analogy: the 80's was dominated by mainframes; the 90's were predominantly client-server; and the 2000's brought the internet to the forefront. While true, they did not explicitly mention how each era never actually died but rather just bled through: we still use mainframes, especially with cloud infrastructure; we still use client-server; and just about no-one would argue that the internet has been displaced, despite its struggle against semi-native apps.
Intel believes that we are currently in the two-in-one era, which they probably mean "multiple-in-one" due to devices such as the ASUS Transformer Book Trio. They created a tagline, almost a mantra, illustrating their vision:
"It's a laptop when you need it; it's a tablet when you want it."
But before elaborating, they wanted to discuss their position in the mobile market. They believe they are becoming a major player in the mobile market with key design wins and outperforming some incumbent system on a chips (SoCs). The upcoming Silvermont architecture pines to be fill in the gaps below Haswell, driving smartphones and tablets and stretching upward to include entry-level notebooks and all-in-one PCs. The architecture promises to scale between offering three-fold more performance than its past generation, or a fifth of the power for equivalent performance.
Ryan discussed Silvermont last month, be sure to give his thoughts a browse for more depth.
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.
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