Intel Atom Z3000 Series Review - Bay Trail and Silvermont Arrive
Intel Burst and Active Power Management
Intel Burst Technology
Previous generations of Atom cores used boost technology but only exposed additional P-states to the CPU based on available thermal headroom. With Silvermont the x86 cores run at burst frequencies managed by hardware measuring thermal, electrical and power delivery constraints. The SoC is able to share power between the CPU cores and graphics or other included units.
The burst operating points can be adjusted dynamically based on thermal properties of the device (larger heatsinks, etc.) but there is very little overlap between what Silvermont is doing and what the Core series algorithms are doing with Turbo Boost.
These diagrams illustrate the capabilities of bursting and it is really this technology that allows Intel to compete with ARMs big.LITTLE designs with a single core design that scales power envelopes and frequency levels smoothly. Part of our testing of Bay Trail and the new Atom Z3000 series SoCs is to find out how often they are meeting their top frequencies and where they fall to after extended use.
Active Power Management
Intel provided some thermal imaging of Bay Trail to demonstrate the capability for these SoCs to dynamically power down when not being utilized. Obviously for mobile designs this is the real key for extending battery life of tablets and smartphones without sacrificing peak performance.
The top image shows a near fully utilized quad-core Atom Z3000 part with the red areas as the “hot spots”. The second image shows both modules (all four x86 cores) in a sleep state while the final image shows a fully gated SoC at its lowest power state.