Intel has high hopes for its new Silverthorne/Diamondville-based
Atom processors. Intel formally
introduced Atom and Centrino Atom in early March and indicated that the
processors/platform would be used in a wide variety of devices.
Intel expects for its new Atom architecture to target
$40B in new markets. "It’s not just the 1 billion people that have
access to the Internet now. It’s the next 2 billion people. It’s not just about
selling more PCs, but bringing new devices and new price points to bring those
people onto the Internet," said Intel CEO Paul Otellini in March. "We
are not talking about repurposing old silicon, but designing new silicon for
each of these different areas."
Intel is now taking its first steps to deliver Atom processors to the
masses. The first round of Atom processors are the Silverthorne-based
units which feature a 13mm x 14mm package size.
The five new 45nm, high-k Atom processor range in speed from 800MHz to
1.86GHz and all feature 512KB of L2 cache. The Z500 and Z510 clock in at 800MHz
and 1.1GHz respectively and feature a FSB operating at 400MHz. The Z520, Z530,
and Z540 represent speed grades of 1.33GHz, 1.6GHz, and 1.86GHz respectively using
a 533MHz FSB. The 533MHz SKUs will feature Hyper-Threading
-- a technology that many are familiar with thanks to the unloved Pentium 4
The family of Atom processors features a thermal design power (TDP) range of
0.65 to 2.4 W; average power range of 160 to 200 mW; and idle power range
of 80 to 100 mW.
Prices for the chips range from $45 for the Z500 to $160 for the Z540 in
quantities of 1,000.
The Atom Z5xx processors are aimed at what Intel calls the Mobile Internet
Device (MID) market. These devices fit into your pocket and are expected to
have excellent battery life. Other targeted platforms for these Atom processors
include GPS devices, portable video players, and converged tablets.
Backing up Intel's Atom Z5xx processors is Intel's new System Controller Hub
(SCH) which was previously known as Poulsbo. The SCH incorporates HD
audio, PCIe, USB, and SDIO support. The SCH will also have extended
capabilities for WiFi, WiMAX, EV-DO and HSDPA.
Also included on the SCH is a third-party graphics solution which is quite a
departure for Intel. In this case, Intel licensed Imagination Technologies’ POWERVR SGX
graphics and POWERVR VXD multi-standard HD video technologies. The graphics
core is capable of supporting hardware accelerated 720p and 1080i HD
"The introduction of Intel’s Centrino Atom processor technology
incorporating our POWERVR graphics and video technologies signifies the
beginning of a new class of Mobile Internet Device,” said Tony King-Smith, Imagination
Technologies’ VP of Marketing. “Imagination looks forward to its continued
collaboration with leading industry players to provide products and
technologies that help enable ever more dynamic visual user experiences."
"Today is a historic day for Intel and the high-tech industry as we
deliver our first-ever Intel Atom processor and surround it with a great
package of technology," said Intel Senior VP Anand Chandrasekher.
"Mix in the incredible innovation coming from our fellow device makers and
software vendors, and we will change the way consumers will come to know and
access the World Wide Web. These forthcoming MIDs, and some incredible
longer-term plans our customers are sharing with us, will show how small
devices can deliver a big Internet experience."
The next big release for Intel's Atom processors will come in the form of
the Diamondville-based processors. These processors will go in devices
which Intel calls "netbooks". However, we know them more commonly as
devices like the Eee
PC 900 and ECS
The Diamondville-based N270 will run at 1.6GHz using a 533MHz FSB.
This is the chip that will find a home in the previously mentioned nettops. According
to Intel's latest roadmaps, the chip will be priced at $44 in quantities of
Intel is going full-bore with its new Atom processor lineup and it should be
interesting to see how the Silverthorne and Diamondville-based
machines fare in the marketplace. Diamondville-based nettops are pretty
much a sure bet as far as sales are concerned, but many are still not sold on
the whole MID concept which would cater to Silverthorne.
For a more thorough look at Intel's Atom architecture, take a look at AnandTech's