Subject: Processors | June 2, 2013 - 11:32 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: silvermont, pentium, Intel, haswell, celeron, atom, 22nm
In addition to the impending launch of Intel's desktop Haswell processors, the company is also working on new Atom-series chips based on Intel's Silvermont architecture. Ryan Shrout wrote about the upcoming Atom architecture a few weeks ago, and you can read up on it here. However, in short, Atoms using the Silvermont architecture are 22nm SoCs with a Hyper Threaded, dual-module quad core design that comes with burst-able clockspeeds and up to 2.5x the performance of chips using the previous generation Saltwell architecture. Intel is promising up to a 50% IPC (instructions per clock) increase, and 4.7x lower power versus previous generation Atom CPUs.
A block diagram of Intel's upcoming Silvermont architecture.
With that said, over the weekend I read an interesting article over at PC World that hinted at these new Silvermont-based Atom processors taking up the Pentium and Celeron branded CPU mantle. In speaking with Intel employee Kathy Gill, the site learned that Intel will be using the Silvermont architecture in code-named Bay Trail-M and Bay Trail-D processors for notebooks and desktops respectively. The Bay Trail code name isn't new, but Intel's use of the Pentium and Celeron branding for these Atom chips is. For the past few generations, Intel has re-purposed lower-tier or lower binned Core processors as Pentiums or Celerons by disabling features and/or clocking them lower. It seems that Intel finally believes that its Atom lineup is good enough to serve those low-end desktop and notebook CPU purposes under the budget brand families.
Kathy Gill further stated that "we aren't ready to disclose additional details on Haswell plans at this time,” which does not rule out Haswell-based Celeron and Pentium chips. It does not confirm them either, however.
After a chat with PC Perspective's Josh Walrath on the issue, I'm not certain which direction Intel will take, but I do believe that Intel will (at least) favor the Atom chips for the Pentium and Celeron brands/lines because the company will see much better profit margins with the Silvermont-based chips compared to Haswell-based ones. On the other hand, Intel would lose out on the ability to re-brand low binning Core i3s as Pentium or Celeron CPUs. Further, going with both architectures would complicate matters and invite a good amount of brand confusion for many consumers in spite of allowing a mix of better profit margins and re-purposing chips that otherwise wouldn't make the cut (admittedly, Intel probably has to artificially limit some number of chips to keep up with the volume of Pentium and Celerons needed, it's difficult to say to what extent though).
Hopefully we will know more about Intel's Bay Trail CPUs and branding plans at Computex later this week.
What do you think of this move by Intel, and will the Silvermont-based Bay Trail chips be up to the task?
Subject: Mobile | May 10, 2013 - 06:56 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: clover trail, asus, VivoTab Smart ME400C, atom
While the new Atom processors that we discussed are a long way off you can still pick up some interesting devices powered by the current generation. The ASUS VivoTab Smart ME400C has a Z2760 @ 1.8GHz, 2GB DDR2 and a 64GB eMMC SSD which is not too shabby for a $400 device. The 1366x768 resolution screen might not be the best but at 10.1" it is a reasonable choice for ASUS to make. The Tech Report's testing showed you can expect about 10 hours of battery life and it is capable of running Windows 8 and legacy x86 software as opposed to the ARM powered WinRT tablets it competes with. They do recommend you purhase the TranSleeve and a bluetooth keyboard and mouse combo seperately as you will save a good amount of money doing so.
"This Windows 8 tablet has an Atom processor, solid battery life, and a $430 price tag. Is it compelling as a tablet, and can it really double as a productivity PC?"
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- MSI GT70 0NE @ Hardware.info
- Microsoft Surface Pro @ Hardware.info
- Toshiba Kirabook Review @ TechReviewSource
- CyberPowerPC FangBook @ AnandTech
- Acer Aspire R7 @ The Inquirer
- ASUS VivoTab Smart ME400 10.1 inch Windows 8 Tablet Review @ Legit Reviews
- Gigabyte P2742G Gaming Laptop @ Modders-Inc
- Acer Aspire S7-191 Touchscreen Ultrabook @ Tweaktown
- Lenovo IdeaPad Lynx Review @ TechReviewSource
- ASUS VivoBook X202E Laptop @ Hardware Secrets
- Acer Aspire E1-531 Laptop Review @ Madshrimps
- AVATAR Mercury Ultrabook AVIU-145A2 Review @ OCC
- Acer Aspire S7-391 Touchscreen Ultrabook @ Tweaktown
- Samsung 5-Series NP540U3C-A01 13.3-inch Ultrabook Notebook Review @ PCSTATS
- Samsung Galaxy Note II Phablet @ Tweaktown
- Sony VAIO Fit 14 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Giada Q11 Android OS Mini PC @ techPowerUp
- Cooler Master NotePal A200 Laptop Cooling Pad Review @ Ninjalane
- ADATA DashDrive Air AE400 Review @ Legit Reviews
- Spire Power Bank 4000 Battery Charger Review @ Legit Reviews
- Thermaltake GOrb II Portable Laptop Cooler @ Tweaktown
- TYLT PowerPlant Portable 5200mAh Battery Pack @ Tweaktown
- Noreve Sony Xperia Z Leather Case (Tradition - 21038T) Review @ Madshrimps
- BlackBerry Q10 @ The Register
- Samsung Galaxy S4 vs iPhone 5 head to head @ The Inquirer
- Samsung Galaxy S4 @ Hardware.info
- Samsung Galaxy S4 @ The Inquirer
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.
In addition to Intel's announcement of new Xeon processors, the company is launching three new Atom-series processors for servers later this year. The new processor lineups include the Intel Atom S12x9 family for storage applications, Rangeley processors for networking gear, and Avoton SoCs for low-power micro-servers.
The Intel Atom S12x9 family takes the existing S1200 processors and makes a few tweaks to optimize the SoCs for storage servers and other storage appliances. For reference, the Intel Atom S1200 series of processors feature sub-9W TDPs, 1MB of cache, and two physical CPU cores clocked at up to 2GHz. However, Intel did not list the individual S12x9 SKUs or specifications, so it is unknown if they will also be clocked at up to 2GHz. The new Atom S12x9 processors will feature 40 PCI-E 2.0 lanes (26 Root Port and 16 Non-Transparent Bridge) to provide ample bandwidth between I/O and processor. The SoCs also feature hardware RAID acceleration, Native Dual-Casting, and Asynchronous DRAM Self-Refresh. Native Dual-Casting allows data to be read from one source and written to two memory locations simultaneously while Asynchronous DRAM Self-Refresh protects data during a power failure.
The new chips are available now to customers and will be available in OEM systems later this year. Vendors that plan to release systems with the S12x9 processors include Accusys, MacroSAN, Qnap, and Qsan.
Intel is also introducing a new series of processors --- codenamed Rangeley -- is intended to power future networking gear. The 22nm Atom SoC is slated to be available sometime in the second half of this year (2H'13). Intel is positioning the Rangeley processors at entry-level to mid-range routers, switches, and security appliances.
While S12x9 and Rangeley are targeted at specific tasks, the company is also releasing a general purpose Atom processor codenamed Avoton. The Avoton SoCs are aimed at low power micro-servers, and is Intel's answer to ARM chips in the server room. Avoton is Intel's second generation 64-bit Atom processor series. It uses the company's Silvermont architecture on a 22nm process. The major update with Avoton is the inclusion of an Ethernet controller built into the processor itself. According to Intel, building networking into the processor instead of as a chip on a separate add-on board results in "significant improvements in performance per watt." These chips are currently being sampled to partners, and should be available in Avoton-powered servers later this year (2H'13).
This year is certainly shaping up to be an interesting year for Atom processors. I'm excited to see how the battle unfolds between the ARM and Atom-based solutions in the data center.
Subject: Mobile | February 7, 2013 - 11:43 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: z2760, video, Thinkpad, tablet 2, tablet, Lenovo, clovertrail, atom z2760, atom
The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 just arrived at our office this week and before our full review we wanted to show our readers a quick overview on the design, features, accessories and performance of this 1.3 lbs Intel Atom Z2760 based computer. Running a full version of Windows 8 Pro, and not the somewhat limited Windows RT found on the MS Surface and ASUS VivoTab RT, the Tablet 2 (horrible name not withstanding) looks to be a pretty interesting device for users that want x86 compatibility and mobility.
Enjoy the video preview below!
Subject: General Tech | January 8, 2013 - 11:28 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SoC, smartphones, Intel, atom z2420, atom
Intel recently announced a new Atom-series Z2420 processor aimed at low-cost smartphones. The new System on a Chip will complement the existing Medfield and Clover Trail+ line – which are for higher-performance devices – by being aimed at the low cost phones in developing markets. The Atom Z2420 combines a CPU, L2 cache, GPU, memory controller, cryptography engine, image signal processor, and fixed function hardware used for video encoding and decoding. The chip is designed to be low power and is manufactured on Intel’s 32nm High-k metal gate process technology. According to Intel, the Co-PoP package measures 12 mm x 12 mm making it suitable for the intended smartphone form factor.
Specifications include a single core processor with 512KB of L2 cache running at 1.2 GHz that supports Intel’s HyperThreading, Burst, and low power C6 state technologies. With HyperThreading, it can utilize two threads and with Burst, the processor can dynamically scale frequency to balance power usage and CPU load. The Intel GMA GPU uses PowerVR SGX540 graphics cores clocked at 400 Mhz. It is compatible with OpenGL ES 2.0 and OpenVG 1.1. The GPU is rated at 40 MTS peak polygons and a 2000 MPPS peak fill rate. Additionally, the SoC features hardware that can hardware encode/decode 30 FPS 1080p video in H.264, H.263, and MP4. Further, the hardware can hardware accelerate decoding of VC1, WMV9 but it cannot hardware accelerate encoding of those two additional formats. The Atom Z2420 SoC supports dual channel LPDDR2 memory clocked at 400 MHz. The Image Signal Processor (ISP) can support a 1.2MP and 8MP front and rear cameras. The SoC can support 15 FPS burst capture, video image stabilization, and HD video recording.
Intel has positioned the Atom Z2420 SoC at the Android operating system, and has even built a reference smartphone with the new processor. Acer, Lava, and Safaricom are among the companies lined up to produce future budget smartphones with the new SoC. Unfortunately, Atom Z2420-powered smartphones are not headed to the United States. Intel is sticking to developing markets suchs as India, Latin America, and Africa. Here's hoping next year Intel (finally) feels its mobile (smartphone) hardware is ready to compete with the ARM giants and that it pushes for Atom-powered smartphones in additional countries (including the US). Until then, you can find more information on the current generation Z2420 in the press release (PDF).
PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
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.
Subject: Systems | January 4, 2013 - 07:59 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: arm, Intel, krayt, atom, qualcomm, cortex a15, tegra 3
AnandTech managed to get their hands on an Samsung designed ARM Cortex A15 processor powered tablet, which they compared to several competitors such as Intel's Atom, Qualcomm's Krait and NVIDIA's Tegra 3. The test names may seem unfamiliar with Sunspider, Kraken and RIABench providing performance comparisons though the power consumption tests will be familiar to all. Read on to see how the next generation of chips from the main contenders for your mobile device spending compare.
"The previous article focused on an admittedly not too interesting comparison: Intel's Atom Z2760 (Clover Trail) versus NVIDIA's Tegra 3. After much pleading, Intel returned with two more tablets: a Dell XPS 10 using Qualcomm's APQ8060A SoC (dual-core 28nm Krait) and a Nexus 10 using Samsung's Exynos 5 Dual (dual-core 32nm Cortex A15). What was a walk in the park for Atom all of the sudden became much more challenging. Both of these SoCs are built on very modern, low power manufacturing processes and Intel no longer has a performance advantage compared to Exynos 5."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- iBUYPOWER Chimera 4SE Desktop Gaming PC @ Tweaktown
- Improving the PC as a gaming platform: the hardware @ The Tech Report
- Cyberpower Gaming Battalion 502 Windows 8 PC Review (FX 4170 / Radeon 7770) @ Kitguru
- HP Envy 23-d060qd TouchSmart Review @ TechReviewSource
- E3iO Snack Series SK02 Desktop PC Review @ Ninjalane
- Antec ISK110 VESA Mini-ITX Desktop @ techPowerUp
Subject: General Tech | December 11, 2012 - 07:48 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: 32nm, 22nm, tri-gate, Intel, atom, Avoton
Intel's Atom S1200 line of chips are obviously designed to compete with ARM's upcoming 64bit chips in the server room. The family of processors will all be under 10W TDP, with the top chip, the Atom S1260, which is a dual core 2GHz part that produces 8.5W. The three chips they have released are on the older 32nm process but according to EETimes you can expect new models using the 22nm tri-gate processors in the near future. From what The Register could find out Intel has not yet ruled out LGA models as well as the embedded chips you will be seeing first. They did pin down some more stats, with the new Atoms supporting DDR3 1333MHz and support eight lanes of PCI Express 2.0, what they will not be able to support on chip is network connectivity, these chips will still be at least partially dependent on other chips for some of their features so they are not truly an SoC, yet.
"CHIPMAKER Intel has released its Atom S1200 series aimed at low power single socket servers.
Intel's race to meet ARM in the low power server market has seen the firm push its Atom branded chips into sub-10W territory while supporting 64-bit memory addressing and ECC memory. Now the firm has released three dual-core chips that make up its Atom S1200 series, all sporting sub-10W TDP."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Asustek refutes rumors about adopting ARM platform from VIA @ DigiTimes
- TSMC and Global Foundries Plan Risky Process Jump As Intel Unveils 22nm SoC @ Slashdot
- Flexible graphene transistor breaks new records @ NanoTechWeb
- Valve chief confirms Steam-centric console-killing PC @ The Register
- New transistor tech could beat silicon and save Moore's Law @ The Register
- Dell tunes up servers for high freaky traders @ The Register
- Ninjalane Podcast - Forced Obsolescence, No More LGA? And Mainstream Watercooling
- IBM achieves 25Gbit/s photonics breakthrough @ The Inquirer
- Killer Wireless-N 1202 Mini PCIe NIC Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- AMD bites bullet, slashes chip orders @ The Register
- Modding article - How to build a tiny Arcade Cabinet based on a classic Nintendo hardware at Metku.net
- Simulating CRT or Vector displays for more realistic emulation @ Hack a Day
- Holiday 2012 Workstation Buyer's Guide @ AnandTech
- Stanley FatMax LEDLISL and HIDLISL Lithium-Ion Spotlight Double Review @ ModSynergy
- Win silent goodies with BeQuiet! decorate hardware! @ Kitguru
- The Tech Report's 2012 Christmas gift guide