Intel executives admitted that Diamondville's clock speeds aren't directly comparable to those of the company's other mobile and desktop processors because all Atom chips have to process instructions in the sequence the commands appear in a program. This 'in order execution' contrasts with the 'out-of-order execution' technique employed by Merom, Penryn and other Intel CPUs to process whatever instructions they can, wherever they appear within a program. Silverthorne is Intel's first in-order CPU since the original Pentium. Its instruction processing pipeline is 16 steps long.
Power down: Silverthorne's sleep states
Out-of-order can boost performance because it means some instruction can be fed into CPU components that might otherwise be standing idle while another instruction is being dealt with. The upshot is that the chip can process more instructions in a give time, so it's faster. The cost is the complex circuitry needed to make this possible, circuitry missing from the Silverthorne and Diamondville architecture to keep the die size down.
To balance that, they use HyperThreading to try and keep otherwise un-utilised logic units occupied. How the absence of out-of-order and the presence of HT will balance out remains to be seen, so all we can say for now is that a 1.6GHz Atom N270 isn't necessarily going to be much faster than a 900MHz Celeron M - the Eee PC's processor - only that it probably will be. We'll have to wait for independently run benchmarks to find out for sure.
Silverthorne vs Penryn
For its part, Intel claimed this week that adding HyperThreading delivers a performance boost of around 37 per cent for an 18 per cent increase in power consumption when compared to a Silverthorne without HT running at the same clock speed.
The suggested chipsets mean Diamondville systems aren't going to be graphics powerhouses. With the emphasis on low costs, it seems unlikely that vendors will add in discrete GPUs to take over from the chipsets' GMA950 integrated graphics. If it happens, it'll be in desktops, but don't hold your breath.
Expect Diamondville to debut in June.
'Diamondville' to shine as Intel's next Atom
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)