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: Processors, Shows and Expos | September 10, 2013 - 02:47 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: idf, idf 2013, Intel, keynote, live blog
We are preparing for the second day of keynotes at IDF so sign up below to get a reminder for our live blog! After the first keynote saw the introduction of Intel Quark SoCs, showcases of the first 14nm Broadwell processor and a 22nm LTE smartphone, day 2 could be even more exciting!
The event starts at 9am PT / 12pm ET on Wednesday the 11th!
Subject: Processors, Shows and Expos | September 10, 2013 - 02:31 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: quark, Intel, idf 2013, idf
In a very interesting and surprising announcement at the first Intel Developer Forum keynote this morning, Intel's new CEO Brian Krzanich showed the first samples of Quark, a new SoC design that will enter into smaller devices that even Atom can reach.
Quark is the family name for the new line of SoCs that are open, synthesizable and support with industry standard software. An open SoC is simply one that will allow third-party IP integration with the processor cores while a synthesizable one can be moved and migrated to other production facilities as well. This opens up Intel to take Quark outside of its own fabrication facilities (though Krzanich said they would prefer not during Q&A) and allow partners to more easily integrate their own silicon with the Quark DNA. Intel had previously announced that Atom would be able to integrate with third-party IP but that seems to have been put on the back burner in favor of this.
Quark will not be an open core design in the same way that ARM's core can be, but instead Intel is opening up the interface fabric for direct connection to computing resources.
The Quark SoC is square in the middle
Krzanich showed off the chip on stage that is 1/5 the size of Atom and 1/10 the power levels of Atom (though I am not sure if we are referring to Clover Trail or Bay Trail for the comparison). That puts it in a class of products that only ARM-based designs have been able to reach until now and Intel displayed both reference systems and wearable designs.
UPDATE: Intel later clarified with me that the "1/5 size, 1/10 power" is for a Quark core against an Atom core at 22nm. It doesn't refer to the entire SoC package.
Intel hasn't yet told us what microarchitecture Quark is based on but if I were a betting man I would posit that it is related to the Silvermont designs we are looking at on Bay Trail but with a cut down feature set. Using any other existing design from Intel would result in higher than desired power consumption and die size levels but it could also be another ground up architecture as well.
I'll be poking around IDF for more information on Quark going forward but for now, it appears that Intel is firmly planting itself on a collision course with ARM and Qualcomm.
UPDATE 1: I did get some more information from Intel on the Quark SoC. It will be the first product based on the 14nm manufacturing process and is a 32-bit, single core, single thread chip based on a "Pentium ISA compatible CPU core." This confirms that it is an x86 processor though not exactly what CPU core it is based on. More soon!
Subject: General Tech | September 10, 2013 - 02:29 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Intel, idf 2013, idf, haswell, fanless, convertible tablet, Broadwell, 14nm
New Intel CEO Brian Krzanich took the stage at IDF 2013 to talk about Intel's future and the PC market. The CEO believes that there is more innovation in the PC than ever before as the company introduces new Haswell and Broadwell chips, new form factors are being experimented with, and Intel moves from traditional CPU to SoC type of architectures.
Two such chips that Intel showed off that are aimed at consumer PCs include a new Haswell-Y chip and the launch of a 14nm Broadwell SoC.
Haswell Y is an ultra low power variant of the Haswell processors that have been avaialble in desktops since June. This new chip is a 4.5W TDP chip that will enable fanless mobile devices such as laptops and slate tablets. The x86-64 chip will allow fanless mobiles that run Windows and should be a good bit more powerful than current Atom-powered Windows mobiles!
A fanless Haswell Y system.
In addition to Haswell Y, Intel is introducing a 14nm Broadwell SoC. The Broadwell chips will be used in both servers and consumer products in 2014.
The 14nm Broadwell SoC.
Interestingly, it looks like Intel is well on its way to shipping chips as Intel showed off a working laptop with the Broadwell chip at IDF today. Further, Intel announced that the Broadwell chips will be shipping by the end of the year!
A 14nm Broadwell-powered laptop.
Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more information!
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: Processors, Shows and Expos | September 10, 2013 - 11:02 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: live blog, keynote, Intel, idf 2013, idf
UPDATE: You can see the replay of our live blog below from Day 1 of IDF but be sure you head over to the Day 2 Live Blog page to set a reminder! Join us on Wednesday at 9am PT / 12pm ET!!
Today is the beginning of the 2013 Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco! Join me at 9am PT for the first of three live blogs of the main Intel keynotes where we will learn what direction Intel is taking on many fronts!
Subject: General Tech | September 9, 2013 - 02:10 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: kingston, Avoton, Intel, ddr4
Fountain Valley, CA – September 9, 2013 – Kingston Technology Company, Inc., the independent world leader in memory products, today announced they will be showcasing working DDR4 memory, XMP certified HyperX memory on a new Ivybridge-E based desktop, 2133 MHz SO-DIMMs for a Haswell based notebook and ECC memory in an Avoton based microserver at the Intel Developers Forum (IDF) 2013. IDF will be held at the Moscone center in San Francisco, California on September 10th – 12th .
During IDF 2013 Kingston will be showcasing four demo systems. The DDR4 memory demo will highlight 192GB of working 2133MT/s DDR4 Registered DIMMs at 1.2V operating on a future Intel reference platform. The Kingston HyperX demo will be showcasing the latest HyperX memory that has been validated through Intel's XMP certification process. The demos will be shown using an X79 motherboard and one of Intel's newest Ivybridge E processors. Our 2133 MHz SO-DIMM memory demo will be shown working on a Haswell based notebook. The Microserver demo will be demonstrating 1600 MHz 1.35V low voltage ECC SODIMM memory on an Intel Atom C2000-series “Avoton” microserver. Kingston's ECC SODIMM memory has been validated on the Intel “Edisonville” microserver system, and is posted on Intel's website.
Intel's Avoton System on a Chip (SoCs) is a more powerful chip for use in the microserver market. This chip allows low power machines to handle a broader range of computing workloads. Microservers are quickly gaining in popularity as companies seek powerful, yet more energy- and physical-space efficient solutions that serve specific data center needs or cloud applications. Examples include web and cloud hosting, and big data where terabytes or petabytes of information sets are analyzed per second. Kingston’s low-voltage, high-performing microserver memory modules are the perfect match to help accomplish these tasks.
Kingston is celebrating 25 years in the memory industry. The company was founded on October 17, 1987, and has grown to become the largest third-party memory manufacturer in the world. The 25th anniversary video and information including a timeline of Kingston's history can be found on the anniversary web page. In addition, HyperX memory is celebrating its 10th anniversary. The first HyperX high-performance memory module was released in November 2002.
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: General Tech | September 8, 2013 - 10:01 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SFF, Intel, htpc, haswell, gigabyte brix, gigabyte
Gigabyte recently updated its BRIX line of small form factor PCs to include Intel Haswell processors, 4K display support, and additional IO port options. The new BRIX systems measure 29.9mm x 107.6mm x 114.4mm and feature a chassis constructed of anthracite aluminum with a glass top panel. The new BRIX PCs come in four SKUs, each of which comes with an Intel Haswell processor of i7, i5, i3, or Celeron varieties.
The BRIX PCs come with the case, a small Gigabyte motherboard, an Intel CPU, and a wireless module with 802.11n and Bluetooth 4.0 radios. Users can choose their own mSATA SSD, DDR3 SO-DIMMs (two per system, up to 16GB), and operating system. The front panel of the Haswell-powered BRIX PCs includes two USB 3.0 ports and a headphone jack that doubles as an optical S/PDIF output.
The back panel of the BRIX system includes:
- 2 x USB 3.0 ports
- 1 x RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet (Realtek RT8111G NIC)
2 x Video outputs:
- 1 x Mini-DipslayPort
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x DC-in
- 1 x Kensington Lock
Internally, the BRIX PCs have one Mini-PCI-E slot, one mSATA slot, and two DDR3 SO-DIMM slots. The Mini-PCI-E slot is used by the pre-installed Wi-Fi module, however. Processor options include the Intel Celeron 2955U, Core i3-4010U, Core i5-4200U, and Core i7-4500U. At the high end, the i7-4500U is a dual core CPU with HyperThreading, 4MB cache, and clockspeeds of 1.8GHz base and 3.0GHz turbo. The i5 also has turbo boost, but only up to 2.6GHz. The Core i3-4010U has HyperThreading but no Turbo Boost while the Celeron is stripped of both Turbo Boost and HyperThreading. The chart below lists all the processor specifications.
|Processor||Core i7-4500U||Core i5-4200U||Core i3-4010U||Celeron 2955U|
|Cores / Threads||2 / 4||2 / 4||2 / 4||2 / 2|
|Clockspeeds||1.8 GHz to 3.0 GHz||1.6 GHz to 2.6 GHz||1.7 GHz||1.4 GHz|
The new Haswell-powered Gigabyte BRIX PCs include the GB-BXCE-2955, GB-BXi3-4010, GB-BXi5-4200, and GB-BXi7-4500. Unfortunately, the company has not yet released pricing or availability for the SFF devices. More informtation on the Haswell models can be found on this Gigabyte microsite.
Read more about the Gigabyte BRIX platform and how it compares to the competition here.
Subject: General Tech | September 5, 2013 - 03:07 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Avoton, c2000, Intel, Edisonville
The Tech Report picked up some technical details on the C2000 series of Avoton SoC's bound for business as Microservers or high density servers. Avoton is a true 64-bit chip and supports DDR3 and DDR3L DRAM at speeds up to 1600 MT/s and they have abandoned the FSB in favour of the crossbar style IDI that has been present in Intel's larger chips since Nehalem. They've also replaced the Southbridge with a South Complex that provides 16 lanes of PCIe 2.0 on the fastest interconnect with a data connectivity attached alongside the PCIe. That consists of pair of SATA 6Gbps, four SATA 3 ports and four ethernet controllers capable of 2.5Gbps which are capable of teaming and offering 10Gbps. Check out their article for more on the hottest thing to hit server racks that won't put you in debt for life.
"Today, Intel officially unveiled its Atom C2000-series products, based on the Avoton system-on-a-chip, so we have the opportunity to offer a little more detail about this distinctive new SoC."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel chases network gear and cold storage with Avoton Atoms @ The Register
- Intel shows off 'disaggregated' rack of servers, storage, and networking @ The Register
- Intel's Avoton Atoms give microservers muscle – and Xeon-class features @ The Register
- Microsoft to push own brand with help from Nokia @ DigiTimes
- OCCAT Into Street-Proof Messenger Bag @ Neoseeker
- Magellan RoadMate RV5365T-LMB GPS Navigator @ TechwareLabs
- How To Fix GDI Leaks In Internet Explorer 10 and 9 @ TechARP
- Making Asteroids Miniature @ Hack a Day