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Intel also talks "Sandy Bridge" and "Tunnel Creek."

The poor global economy of the last year meant that profits were down for just about every major computer manufacturer and hardware maker in the industry. Consumers and corporations held onto tight funds rather than spending on upgrades and new computers. One of the few bright spots was in cheap consumer devices like netbooks and server processors where power savings offset the cost of the upgrade for some companies.

With the worst of the economic crisis hopefully over, consumers and businesses are starting to spend again on computers. Surprisingly, many consumers and corporations are buying in the higher-end range of the market rather than the low-end with netbooks. With the increased spending in the higher-end market Intel has boomed. The company posted its earnings figured yesterday and reported a massive jump in profit of over 400% compared to the same month in 2009.

Profit at Intel was a massive $2.4 billion or 43 cents per share. The exact growth percentage was 433% reports 
CNET News. The 43 cents per share earnings significantly eclipsed what analysts expected Intel to post at 38 cents per share. Q1 2010 revenue was $10.3 billion, a 44% increase from Q1 2009. CEO Paul Otellini stated that it was the best quarter ever for Intel.

Analyst Doug Freedman from Broadpoint AmTech said, "Consumer and corporate are spending more on horsepower. They're buying high-priced machines in a time that you would think budgets would be tight."

The big factor in the whopping profits for the quarter was in mobile processor revenue. There were massive shortages of Intel's new 2010 line of Core processors due to demand from computer builders that are just now easing. With shortages, Intel was still able to turn record profits.

Profit reports were not all Intel had up its sleeves this week. The company has also announced a new Atom-based SoC codenamed
Tunnel Creek. Tunnel Creek is aimed at IP phones, printers, and in-vehicle infotainment systems for cars and trucks. The new SoC integrates an Atom processor core, memory controller hub, graphics engine, and video engine into one highly integrated chip. The first mass use of the new SoC will be Chinese carmaker HawTai. The company will use the new SoC in an in dash infotainment system in some of its vehicles.

"Intel is committed to focus our technologies on innovative new applications in China," said Doug Davis, corporate vice president and general manager of Intel's embedded and communications group. "We're cooperating closely with local companies in China to provide smarter and better connected computing solutions for cars, homes, businesses that provide infrastructure to power a more mobile and faster Internet experience." 

The new SoC will allow companies to create PCI Express compliant devices that directly connect to the chip for the first time. Intel claims that this feature will increase flexibility for embedded applications.

Intel also shared some of its vision for the future this week. Intel talked a bit about its next generation
Sandy Bridge processors set for production late in 2010. The new processors will be constructed with the second-generation Intel Hi-K 32nm process technology. The processors will also be the first to support Intel Advanced Vector Extension (Intel AVX) instructions. Sandy Bridge will also support Intel AES New instructions.

Intel AVX accelerates the trend towards floating point intensive computation in general applications like 3D modeling and scientific simulation. Intel AES-NI is a set of software instructions that accelerates encryption and decryption.
Sandy Bridge will also have Intel's sixth generation graphics core with acceleration for floating point, video, and other processor intensive applications.

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By WinstonSmith on 4/14/2010 10:40:50 AM , Rating: 2
An EE Times article on the Tunnel Creek SoC states that it uses a 45nm process technology and is expected to have a power consumption of 3 watts. The currently available and, probably, similarly capable TI OMAP3 uses 1 watt.

By menting on 4/14/2010 10:49:18 AM , Rating: 2
from the article, it seems that the target sector for Tunnel Creek differs from the TI OMAP3 you mentioned.

By therealnickdanger on 4/14/2010 10:54:22 AM , Rating: 4
... but ARM can't run Windows 7. 2W seems like a fair trade to be able to do anything you want.

I'm hoping that the IGP of Tunnel Creek is on par (at least functionally) with the IGP of Clarkdale/Arrandale. A netbook/nettop with full HD video capabilities (including Flash) would be a massive benefit.

By StevoLincolnite on 4/14/2010 11:54:15 AM , Rating: 1
I think IGP's are the biggest pitfall at the moment, Intels has never been great performance wise (Erratic), and the drives have always been... well... bad. - If they intend to do a Fusion styled implementation similar to what AMD is going to do, I really do hope they have a decent part by then.

Until then nVidia has the best IGP's in-terms of performance and AMD really does need to kick it up a notch.

RE: Still not competitive even with current ARM SoCs
By Flunk on 4/14/2010 12:21:44 PM , Rating: 2
You won't see that, this is an embedded chip for electronics.

By therealnickdanger on 4/15/2010 12:19:20 PM , Rating: 2
I understood that it was still x86 compatible. I guess we'll see what happens once it hits the market.


By carniver on 4/14/2010 12:40:31 PM , Rating: 1
2W while being a small number is actually 3 times the power of an ARM SoC. The problem isn't with Intel's ability to implement the Atom, but rather that x86 is complex and just inefficient for pretty much anything (performance, power) except backwards compatibility. That's something Intel can't fix.

By Fox5 on 4/14/2010 12:57:24 PM , Rating: 2
But as hardware advances, the impact of x86 will get smaller and smaller. Give it 2 or 3 generations and atom should be competitive with ARM, especially since Intel usually leads in process tech.

They could have also gone with a Transmeta Crusoe type design and trade off performance for power savings (and not be native x86 anymore), current ARM SoCs aren't yet performance competitive with Atom anyway, so they have some room to move around with. It was probably just more financially viable to target low power systems (ULV processors and VIA's target market) right now than to force their way into a market that doesn't have software built for their processors yet.

RE: Still not competitive even with current ARM SoCs
By Sahrin on 4/14/2010 11:28:34 AM , Rating: 2
Well, ARM doesn't run Windows, so the performance factor aside I would say no, they are not similarly capable.

By Dribble on 4/14/2010 11:55:34 AM , Rating: 2
A low powered atom designed for phones is not a practical user of windows 7. It doesn't have the cpu grunt, the memory, the hd space, and anyway windows 7 would be a rubbish os for a car info system or phone - it's designed to be used with big screens, mice and keyboards.

Hence that argument doesn't really stand up.

RE: Still not competitive even with current ARM SoCs
By Sahrin on 4/14/2010 2:01:26 PM , Rating: 3
I don't understand your point. The OP said they were similarly capable - if one is capable of doing significant task X and the other is not, isn't that a counter-example?

It sounds like you agree with me, but you think that Win7 is not a significant feature. I can tell you as a buyer of computer products, it is, because I will not buy a netbook that doesn't support Windows 7. Having used an Atom-based netbook with win7, I can tell you that it runs fine.

You then bring up phones - I guess my question is, who said anything about phones? What phone is Atom sold in now? (None) Then why would you compare it to a phone implementation? Cortex *is* however used in Netbooks, making comparing Atom to Cortex in netbooks a perfectly valid comparison.

By rudy on 4/14/2010 4:07:37 PM , Rating: 2
I would say something about phones and this may even be why WP7 is going to be so radically different. I think WP7 will not be as flexible and at first thought that M$ had abandoned us but if you think about it there is soon to be an SOC capable of running a phone with a full copy of windows 7. And I will definitely be buying that. Being able to do and install anything on my phone that is also on my computer will be a revolution for many who need real functionality. Sure it will not be the greatest OS but it will be a short time before some people make interface changes that make it good. Just strap a larger batter on it.

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

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