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Silverthorne will enable ultra-mobile PCs to run full versions of Vista in a 2 watt total power envelope

There have been some interesting announcements from the International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco this week. Texas instruments, for example, introduced its new cellular chip.

Intel also unveiled its new Silverthorne processor aimed at ultra-mobile PCs. Intel says the processor is a full x86 CPU that can handle active work at levels as low as 600mw. Projections claim that the Silverthorne processor will eventually hit 2GHz at a maximum 2-watt dissipation.

Silverthorne takes advantage of Intel’s new 45nm technology. Justin Rattner, CTO of Intel said, “What has a lot of OEMs excited is the dynamic range of this processor. It can be active at less than 1 W, but when it has a workload in front of it--like interpreting some Java byte codes to render a Web page--it can really crank."

Silverthorne performance is said to be on par with the performance of the Intel Pentium M processors that powered the original Intel Centrino notebooks. Intel says that Silverthorne uses multiple power management techniques and can switch in and out of a new C6 deep-sleep-state in a mere 100 microseconds.

As efficient as Silverthorne is according to Intel, it still has a long way to go to compete with cellular based processors used in smartphones. Processors used in smart phones have total power budgets in the range of only 600 milliwatts whereas Silverthorne is in the 2 watt range.

That means that the first generation of Silverthorne devices will be considerably larger than current generation smart phones, though the processor will give the muscle needed to run full versions of Windows Vista. InformationWeek quotes Nathan Brookwood of Insight64 saying, “Silverthorne probably won't appear in anything much smaller than a paperback book. But a follow-on design with lower power consumption in 2009 could very well appear in smart phones.”

The Silverthorne processor is one of the core components in the Intel Menlow platform that DailyTech reported on in September of 2007.



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RE: I wonder...
By TomZ on 2/7/2008 5:09:24 PM , Rating: 1
On the other hand, Intel has an immediate advantage of launching Silverthorne at 45nm, compared to VIA which will launch Isaiah at 65nm and transition to 45nm at some point in the future.

The technology node is especially important for these types of processors because of their emphasis on power consumption and die size.

This is not too different from the situation between Intel and AMD where both have designs with similar characteristics, but where Intel is able to dominate to a large extent because of their manufacturing abilities. VIA is even one step further away from being like AMD since VIA is fabless. Maybe in some ways that is an advantage (e.g., agility), but in terms of competing with Intel, I'll bet it is a net disadvantage.


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