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Intel's 32nm Atom roadmapped

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Intel's 32nm Atom chip - aka 'Medfield' - has popped up on the chip giant's roadmap with a 2010 release window.

Current Atoms are fabbed at 45nm. Medfield will use the smaller transistor size to increase the level of on-die component integration, bring into the system-on-a-chip the I/O functionality currently relegated to the chipset in today's netbooks.

Today's 'Diamondville' Atoms are due to be superseded by 'Pineview' next year, a part based on the upcoming 'Lincroft' SoC, which will bring the memory controller and other components that are traditionally part of the system logic chipset into the processor package.

Lincroft is due to be accompanied by 'Langwell', an I/O chip. Essentially, Medfield is a merged Lincroft and Langwell. At this stage, it's unclear whether it's simply a die-shrink combo of those two parts or a substantial new design.

A report by investment house UBS Securities, cited by various websites, claims that Medfield will incorporate an Intel-designed graphics core.

Netbooks currently rely on the Intel-made GPU integrated into their chipset, but Intel's 'Poulsbo' chipset, designed to operate alongside Atoms aimed not at netbooks but at handheld internet tablets, is thought to use a PowerVR-derived graphics core designed by Imagination Technologies.

Designed for ARM-based gadgets, PowerVR is all about delivery graphical performance at low power consumption levels, and it's not hard to see Intel opting for such a product in devices designed to go head-to-head with ARM-based handhelds. At least until Intel can compete on power consumption, which it's busily trying to do but also hoping that the shift to 32nm will significantly help with.

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