'Diamondville' to shine as Intel's next Atom
Inside the 'Silverthorne' architecture
IDF Having launched the first batch of 45nm Atom-brand processors yesterday, Intel today began touting the next set, these ones aimed at sub-laptops and small form-factor desktops rather than Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs).
Codename watchers will be wondering where 'Diamondville' fits into Intel's Atom family, and now we know for sure. It's the part that will become the Atom N series, leaving the Atom Z series - aka 'Silverthorne' - for MIDs.
Diamondville and Silverthorne are based on the same microarchitecture, developed from the ground up under the Silverthorne codename since that was the first chip of the family to be developed. Both versions are fully compatible with the 'Merom' Core 2 Duo, so they're limited to SSE 3 rather than SSE 4, part of the 'Penryn' Core 2s.
Small, isn't it?
But where Silverthorne lacks support for 64-bit addressing and Virtualisation Technology - they're not really needed on a handheld - they may well be present in Diamondville CPUs, almost certainly in the case of the desktop-oriented models.
Expect a number of mobile Diamondvilles, but the one Intel touted today is the N270. The chip giant confirmed it will be clocked at 1.6GHz and that it'll be paired with Intel's 945GSE northbridge and ICH7M southbridge rather than the more expensive, MID-oriented SCH series that combine with the Atom Zs to form Centrino Atom, a brand that's unlikely to be applied to Atom-based sub-notebooks.
Desktop-centric Diamondvilles will be accompanied by the 945GC northbridge and ICH7 southbridge. Power consumption is less important here than it is with laptops, so expect Intel to drive these as-yet-publicly-unnamed Atoms on cost above all else.
The first desktop Diamondville is expected to be the 1.6GHz 230, though Intel itself has yet to confirm these numbers. Given it has the same clock speed as the N270, we might suggest it'll actually ship with a higher model number.
Intel inside to see off ergonomics
Chips this small can simply be implanted inside the users, removing all hand injury concerns.
And since the chips are low cost the entire project can be paid for as a Google based ad supported platform. Since it will be powered by the glucose fuel cell I imagine that ads for soft drinks and salty snacks will be popular.
Singing Intel Inside to the tune of INXS - Devil inside
But what about health and safety
My main concenr about this technology is human health and safety. Working in an industry where more and more miniturisation is taking place and i'm seeing more and more younger people suffering from hand injuries caused by computer and mobile use, smaller and more portable may be better, but please make somethign which won't injure and cause pain.
A colleague suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome is devastated that they can't text any more, using their phone; smaller than a post-it note. is this the way technology is going????
Ergonomic regs apply to all desktop workstations in the UK, meaning that it has to comply with recommendations set out to make a workspace as comfortable as possible; the mobile industry seems not to comply with such practices???
I hope i'm not just being negative
Linux client chip
I suspect that Intel will benchmark on Linux.
The CPU is slow on any single task while most of the graphics load isn't offloaded.
If you were going to design an operating system to take best advantage of this you would have the applications queue graphics updates to a different process running in user space to do the framebuffer updates with minimal kernel time for the handover.
This will allow the application and the graphical processing to overlap and hyperthread together as much as possible.
I.e. the X windowing system on a Unix-like OS.
So, are we to expect silverthorn in the upcoming 3G iPhone?
(ps, we need a fancy pants stylised question mark in the icon gallery)