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Intel Atom heir in rumor mill upgrade

Faster, smaller, cooler, cheaper

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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. ®

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