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 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 4, 2013 - 02:08 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Avoton, Intel, atom, server, silvermont, 22nm
The new Silvermont based 22nm Avoton chips are officially available as of today as Intel attempts to outmaneuver ARM's attempts to enter the server market. These chips are not the Atom you have grown to know and despise, this is a brand new architecture which Intel claims will be vastly superior in performance while using much less power. They are billed as true SOCs and reflect the changing server market which is now more focused on modular systems of relatively low performance which can be networked together to provide just as much processing power as is needed. The Register did not get any performance numbers yet, hopefully we will see these chips in action soon so we can judge for ourselves if they have what it takes to make it in the server room.
"If you were expecting Chipzilla to keep its server-chip powder dry until its Intel Developer Forum next week, surprise! It looks like Intel is going to jump the gun and get its "Avoton" Atom server chips into the field this Wednesday, as you can see from this announcement preview that Intel sent out to press and analysts over the Labor Day holiday in the States."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft's $7.1bn Nokia gobble: Why you should expect the unexpected @ The Register
- Kodak exits bankruptcy as Kodak Alaris with focus on digital and personal imaging @ The Inquirer
- Globalfoundries growing its 28nm customer base, says CEO @ DigiTimes
- HDMI 2.0 is here with support for 4K at 60fps @ The Inquirer
- Hynix FABs on fire after chemical explosion @ Kitguru
Subject: Mobile | September 4, 2013 - 11:30 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: z2760, transformer book trio, Transformer, ifa 2013, haswell, atom, asus
You want to hear about maybe the craziest device announcement you'll see all year? ASUS just unveiled the Transformer Book Trio, a device they are dubbing a "three-in-one" that combines hardware from the Haswell architecture and an Atom Z2760 SoC to offer up a tablet, notebook and even a DESKTOP experience.
The Transformer Book Trio is a detachable ultraportable notebook at a glance with a top portion that can be removed and becomes an 11.6-in, 1920x1080 IPS multi-touch screen based Android tablet powered by the Intel Atom Z2760 dual-core Clover Trail platform. It includes 64GB of on-board flash storage.
When the display is docked to the keyboard the Trio can switch instantly between a Windows 8 and Android environment by pressing a single key. Data is even shared between the two units via the tablet's 64GB of flash storage.
Here is where things get even more interesting: when detached, the base station of the Transformer Book Trio is not simply dead weight. As quoted from the ASUS press release below: "With an external display connected via Mini DisplayPort or Micro-HDMI, the PC Station can be used as a self-contained desktop PC featuring Windows 8, which means two people, in two different places, can use the Transformer Book Trio at the same time."
Crazy right?? There are more details and specifications below, after the break! I have already inquired about pricing and availability and I'll post more information as soon as I have it!
Subject: General Tech, Systems | August 3, 2013 - 04:13 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SFF, open source hardware, open source, minnowboard, Intel, embedded system, atom
The Intel Open Source Technology Group along with CircuitCo recently launched a new small form factor bare-bones system based on open source hardware and running open source software. The Minnowboard includes a 4.2” x 4.2” motherboard, passively-cooled processor, rich IO, UEFI BIOS, and the Angstrom Linux operating system.
The Minnowboard is powered by a single core Intel Atom E640 processor clocked at 1GHz. It is a 32-bit CPU with HyperThreading and VT-x virtualization support. Other hardware includes an integrated Intel GMA 600 GPU, 1GB of DDR2 memory, and 4MB of flash memory used for motherboard firmware. Storage can be added by plugging a SSD or HDD into the single SATA II 3Gbps port.
The Minnowboard has following IO options:
- 1 x micro SD
- 1 x SATA II 3Gbps
- 2 x USB 2.0 ports
- 1 x micro USB
- 1 x mini USB (serial connection)
- 1 x RJ45 jack (Gigabit Ethernet)
- 2 x 3.5mm audio jacks (line in and line out)
- 1 x HDMI
The Minnowboard also has a GPIO header with 8 buffered GPIO pins, 2 GPIO LEDs, and 4 GPIO switches. As such, the system can be expanded by adding extra open source modules called “Lures.” The board is aimed at developers and embedded system manufacturers. The Minnowboard can be used as the bare system or can be integrated into a case or larger device.
The Minnowboard costs $199 and is available for purchase now from Digi-Key, Farnell (UK), Mouser, and Newark.
Obviously, the Minnowboard is nowhere near as cheap as the $35 Raspberry Pi, but it is running x86 hardware which may make it worth it to some users.
If you are interested, you can learn more about the hardware and get involved with the Minnowboard project over at Minnowboard.org.
Subject: General Tech | July 23, 2013 - 03:44 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Intel, atom, 14nm, Avoton, Broadwell, Denverton, xeon, rangeley
Intel has spent the day announcing new products for the server room, from new Atoms to Xeons. Atom will bear the names of Avoton and Rangeley, Avoton will deal with microservers where power and heat are a major concern while Rangeley will appear in network devices and possibly mobile communication devices. In the case of Avoton it will be replacing a chip that has not yet been released, the 32nm Atom S1200 lineup is due out in the near future and will fill a new niche for Intel that Centerton failed to fill. The Register talks a bit more indepth here.
Slightly more powerful will be new Broadwell and Denverton Xeons, the first SoC server chips from Intel which will be manufactured on the 14nm process. We heard much less about these upcoming chips, due for 2014 but you can read what is available at The Inquirer.
"SAN FRANCISCO: CHIPMAKER Intel has revealed more details about its server processor roadmap, including its upcoming Atom chips codenamed Avoton and Rangeley and new 14nm Xeon and Atom parts codenamed Broadwell and Denverton, respectively."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Multiple Raspberry Pi boards used to create video wall @ Hack a Day
- PIN-Cracking Robot To Be Showed Off At Defcon @ Slashdot
- Flexible PCB makers gearing up mass production for new iPhones @ DigiTimes
- ARM servers to gain boost from ARM, Oracle Java partnership @ The Register
- Linksys EA6700 review: dual-core high-end ac router @ Hardware.info
- UK flicks switch on 'I am a pervert' web filters @ The Register
- Win one of Raijintek's new CPU coolers @ Kitguru
Subject: Editorial | July 17, 2013 - 09:34 PM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: silvermont, quarterly results, money, Lenovo, k900, Intel, atom, 22 nm tri-gate, 14 nm
Intel announced their Q2 results for this year, and it did not quite meet expectations. When I say expectations, I usually mean “make absolutely obscene amounts of money”. It seems that Intel was just shy of estimates and margins were only slightly lower than expected. That being said, Intel reported revenue of $12.8 billion US and a net income of $2 billion US. Not… too… shabby.
Analysts were of course expecting higher, but it seems as though the PC slowdown is in fact having a material effect on the market. Intel earlier this quarter cut estimates, so this was not exactly a surprise. Margins came in around 58.3%, but these are expected to recover going into Q3. Intel is certainly still in a strong position as millions of PCs are being shipped every quarter and they are the dominant CPU maker in its market.
Intel has been trying to get into the mobile market as it still exhibits strong growth not only now, but over the next several years as things become more and more connected. Intel had ignored this market for some time, much to their dismay. Their Atom based chips were slow to improve and typically used a last generation process node for cost savings. In the face of a strong ARM based portfolio of products from companies like Qualcomm, Samsung, and Rockchip, the Intel Atom was simply not an effective solution until the latest batch of chips were available from Intel. Products like the Atom Z2580, which powers the Lenovo K900 phone, were late to market as compared to other 28 nm products such as the Snapdragon series from Qualcomm.
Intel expects the next generation of Atom being built on its 22 nm Tri-Gate process, Silvermont, to be much more competitive with the latest generation offerings from its ARM based competitors. Unfortunately for Intel, we do not expect to see Silvermont based products until later in Q3 with availability in late Q4 or Q1 2014. Intel needs to move chips, but this will be a very different market than what they are used to. These SOCs have decent margins, but they are nowhere near what Intel can do with their traditional notebook, desktop, and server CPUs.
To help cut costs going forward, it seems as though Intel will be pulling back on its plans for 14 nm production. Expenditures and floor space/equipment for 14 nm will be cut back as compared to what previous plans had held. Intel still is hoping to start 14 nm production at the end of this year with the first commercial products to hit at the end of 2014. There are questions as to how viable 14 nm is as a fully ramped process in 2014. Eventually 14 nm will work as advertised, but it appears as though the kinks were much more complex than anticipated given how quickly Intel ramped 22 nm.
Intel has plenty of money, a dominant position in the x86 world, and a world class process technology on which to base future products on. I would say that they are still in very, very good shape. The market is ever changing and Intel is still fairly nimble given their size. They also recognize (albeit sometimes a bit later than expected) shifts in the marketplace and they invariably craft a plan of attack which addresses their shortcomings. While Intel revenue seems to have peaked last year, they are addressing new markets aggressively as well as holding onto their dominant position in notebooks, desktops, and server markets. Intel is expecting Q3 to be up, but overall sales throughout 2013 to be flat as compared to 2012. Have I mentioned they still cleared $2 billion in a down quarter?
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!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
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, Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | June 3, 2013 - 03:00 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Intel, atom, Clover Trail+, SoC, Samsung, Galaxy Tab 3 10.1
While Reuters is being a bit cagey with their source, if true: Intel may have nabbed just about the highest profile Android tablet design win possible. The, still currently unannounced, Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 is expected to embed Intel's Clover Trail+ System on a Chip (SoC). Samsung would not be the largest contract available in the tablet market, their previous tablets ship millions of units each; they are a good OEM vendor to have.
Source: BGR India
Samsung is also known for releasing multiple versions of the same device for various regions and partners. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 did not have a variety of models with differing CPUs like, for instance, the Galaxy S4 phone did; the original "10.1" contained an NVIDIA Tegra 2 and the later "2 10.1" embed a TI OMAP 4430 SoC. It is entirely possible that Intel won every Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 tablet ever, but it is also entirely possible that they did not.
Boy Genius Report India (BGR India, video above) also claims more specific hardware based on a pair of listings at GLBenchmark. The product is registered under the name Santos10: GT-P5200 being the 3G version, and GT-P5210 being the Wi-Fi version.
These specifications are:
- Intel Atom Z2560 800-933 MHz dual-core SoC (4 threads, 1600 MHz Turbo)
- PowerVR SGX 544MP GPU (OpenGL ES 2.0)
- 1280x800 display
- Android 4.2.2
I am not entirely sure what Intel has to offer with Clover Trail+ besides, I would guess, reliable fabrication. Raw graphics performance is still about half of Apple's A6X GPU although, if the leaked resolution is true, it has substantially less pixels to push without being attached to an external display.
Maybe Intel made it too cheap to refuse?