backtop


Print 14 comment(s) - last by ray23.. on Sep 11 at 4:04 PM


  (Source: Paramount TV)
x86 sets its aim on super low power applications

For those wondering, about whether Intel Corp.'s (INTC) new Quark chip might use an an instruction set from ARM Holdings plc (LON:ARM) or MIPS (a recent acquisition of Imagination Technologies Group Plc (LON:IMG)), wonder no longer.

I spoke with several Intel executives and PR people and together they dug up some more information on the processor for me.  It's a 32-bit design, and features a standard Pentium compatible (i.e. x86) instruction set.  

EETimes corroborates this information, reportedly hearing it from Intel's CEO Brian Krzanich himself.  That report also reveals that the chip shown at the morning press keynote was a 32 nm design, a die shrink up from Intel's current 22 nm node.

SoC in hand
Samples of the Quark X1000 ship to partners in Q4 2013.
[Image Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech LLC]

Some have questioned how Intel could get a 32-bit Atom processor scaled down enough to fit on 1/5th the die size and 1/10th the.  I don't really see how it's that unfathomable.

Let's look at Intel's Atom die, circa April 2008 (Silverthorne, 45 nm):

Atom die shot
A die shot of Intel Atom Silverthorne [Image Source: Intel Confidential via AnandTech]

Remember many small microcontrollers have no cache.  

Take away that healthy chunk of L2 cache and perhaps the L1 cache associated with the memory execution cluster (MEC) and the front-end cluster (FEC), as well and you eliminate perhaps half the die.  Eliminate one of the two I/O buses and you get even closer.  Cut out an ALU from the floating-point cluster (FPC) and integer (arithmetic) processing clusters (IPCs) (Atom chips have at least 2 ALUs per cluster) and you're pretty much there, albeit at the expense of sacrificing multithreading.

Intel Atom to Quark

But then again, cutting ALUs or I/O may be unnecessary as Intel may be comparing a GPU-less Quark's die-size to a recent Atom, most of which pack GPUs.

The lighter chip should inherently use a great deal less power.  Cut the clock down from the 1+ GHz Atoms run at to perhaps 500 or 600 MHz and you're likely at 1/10th power consumption.


Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

hmm
By Bubbacub on 9/11/2013 5:44:39 AM , Rating: 2
"But then again, cutting ALUs or I/O may be unnecessary as Intel may be comparing a GPU-less Quark's die-size to a recent Atom, most of which pack GPUs."

its a system on a chip - given the targetted power profile this is the kind thing that could go in a phone - its pretty likely that its going to have a gpu

regards to performance - this could end up being reasonably quite quick - after all atom's terrible performance is partly due to it being made on a crap process and it being based on a decade old cpu design (the original mobile cpu that went into 'centrino' laptops).

a clean sheet design for low power and reasonable performance on 22nm could give us that perfect balance of performance/battery life.

this type of cpu (or maybe a variant running with higher clock speed/cores and draining a bit more power) could let ms/nokia make an x86 phone running a windows 8 type os that can dock/connect/widi to a tablet/laptop/monitor.

this type of device where all your day to day computing power stays in your pocket with you at all times is something that i would be very interested in - it might even be enough to make me ditch the android/linux combo that i've been using for most of my computing the last 18 months.

quark opens up a lot of options for the future




RE: hmm
By Jeffk464 on 9/11/2013 1:39:01 PM , Rating: 2
Well maybe a quad core or more version with software that really maximizes multicore processors.


"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser














botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki