Intel Atom heir in rumor mill upgrade
Faster, smaller, cooler, cheaper
More snippets of news emerged today about Intel's upcoming replacement to its low-power Atom processor, set to launch in the second half of this year.
As we reported last September and updated last week, the Atom heir, code-named Pineview, will be available in both single-core and dual-core versions, each with an on-chip memory controller and integrated graphics processor (IGP), and each employing hyperthreading to nearly double each core's performance - theoretically.
Today the usually reliable Taipei news service, DigiTimes, reported that Pineview will be manufactured using a 45-nanometer process (no surprise there), will have a clock speed higher than the Atom N270's 1.67GHz, and that even though the IGP will be based on Intel's existing GMA 950, its own clock will increase from the current 133MHz in the Atom implementation to 200MHz.
More interesting are new details about Pineview's real-estate needs and the power-miserliness we discussed earlier.
Thanks to what DigiTimes confirms as "built-in northbridge functions, including a memory controller and IGP," Pineview will require a mere 773 square millimeters of motherboard space, down 60 percent from the 2174 square millimeters needed by the Atom N270 and its support chips.
In addition - and despite the increase of the memory controller's clock from 533MHz to 667MHz - Pineview will have a lower maximum TDP (thermal design power, a gauge of a processor's power needs and, therefore, heat dissipation) than the N270: 7 watts instead of 8, with average power descending from 2.5 to 2 watts.
Finally, DigiTimes says that Pineview will have a four-layer construction. That's down from Atom's six layer, a change that should reduce costs.
So, in sum: If DigiTimes is to be believed, Pineview is shaping up to be faster, smaller, less power-hungry, and cheaper than Intel's current fast, small, power-miserly, and inexpensive Atom. ®
ARM a competitor?
Have I missed something? I s there now an ARM processor with virtual memory management?
There is a large class of embedded applications for which virtual memory is not a requirement. If you don't need it, a large number of transistors in the CPU are not needed and a good fraction of the CPU's power dissipation goes away with them.
But for large and complex software, and especially where it is desirable to have an unbreachable memory firebreak between buggy software written by one company, buggy software written by another, and a (hopefully less buggy) operating system servicing the applications and keeping the filestore safe and secure, you need VM.
Intel trying to compete with Via
Via's integrated northbridge/IGP/CPU (Luke) has been out a while (search for ITX UK if you want to buy one). There is a choice of mini-ITX mainboards with Nano (Via's alternative to Atom), but I have yet to see a laptop with one (there are rumours that HP will sell one). This is a pain because a Nano based computer gets similar bench mark scores to Atom and uses far less power than Atom's power hog north bridge.
Last year a mini-ITX case cost more than a mini-ITX mainboard + CPU + heatsink + memory + PSU. Now that cases are a reasonable price, I can put together a good SILENT mini-ITX machine for less than the price of a cheap Intel/AMD ATX box.
Cheap mass market CPU's get the R&D funding to beat expensive server CPU's. That is how x86 wiped out technically better (but more expensive) competitors and how Itanium got where it is today. I can see why Intel wants to compete with Via, and why AMD want to stay clear until the other two have have a long mutually destructive price war.
I have always like AMD - they kept the price of Intel CPU's down. By the time AMD is ready to produce a small cheap X86+IGP, ARM and MIPS will own the market.
Integrated memory controller and IGP?
good stuff... the new atom should be able to perform a lot better than the current one.
7W is miserly?
In my book, 7W is still way too much power draw for a handheld device and only barely acceptable for a small netnook-style device.
@comparable to ARM then
"so they just might, at 45nm, start to come close to what ARM does."