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Intel knits SoCs roadmap for x86

TV, storage array and robot pandering

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Intel is ready to charge once more unto the breach of system-on-a-chip (SoC) devices, this time with a new line of embedded processors based on the same instruction set used in all its desktop and mobile products.

The chipmaker will release eight new x86-based SoC processors targeted at security, storage, and communication gear, as well as industrial robotics.

It hopes to address markets currently dominated by ARM-based CPUs, an architecture with less compatibility across devices, but that has gained considerable traction in the mobile device market due to its power efficiency.

Intel asserts that because most internet application development today is done using the x86 instruction set, the processors are well positioned to appeal to the next wave mobile devices.

The company says it currently has 15 SoC projects planned internally, with the first eight under its EP80579 Integrated Processor family. Many of the products are based on the recently debuted low-power Atom processor core.

“We’re now able to deliver more highly integrated products ranging from industrial robotics and in-car infotainment systems to set-top boxes, MIDs and other devices," said Gadi Singer, veep of Intel's mobility group. "y designing more complex systems onto smaller chips, Intel will scale the performance, functionality and software compatibility of IA while controlling the overall power, cost and size requirements to better meet respective market needs."

EP80579 SoC products are based on the Pentium M processor, integrated memory controller hub, and a variety of integrated communications and embedded I/O controllers. Intel claims the device will have a 45 per cent smaller board footprint and 34 per cent lower power dissipation compared to non-integrated Pentium M processors.

The company's first consumer electronics chip, code-named "Canmore", is scheduled for introduction later this year. Canmore is aimed at TVs and set-top boxes and is heir to Intel's ill-fated Pentium III-based SoC, "Timna", which was announced in the late '90s but never released as a product. It expects step up to the "Sodaville" chip the following year.

Intel plans to launch its next-generation platform for mobile internet devices code-named "Moorestown" and featuring "Lincroft" in 2009 or 2010.

Chipzilla said it has 50 customers for the products already, and many of them have had access to them for nearly a year. Initial systems using the chips will arrive this quarter, with more expected later this year and the next. ®

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