Feeds

Intel will sell more SoCs than mainstream CPUs, says CEO

Atom more important than Core, Xeon?

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

IDF In five years' time, Intel will be selling more system-on-a-chip products than mainstream microprocessors. So said CEO Paul Otellini yesterday. It's a bold claim and one that warrants closer consideration.

Much depends on what Otellini consider an SoC. Most folk will think of them as small-scale chips for handhelds and embedded applications. And, yes, Otellini has his eyes on those roles. He specifically hopes Atom-based SoCs will take the company into new markets.

Incidentally, he hopes Atom will do the same for others. During his Intel Developer Forum keynote, he mentioned the chip giant's move to use Taiwanese foundry TSMC as a production facility for Atom-based products. That's not new, but this time he added that he want to allow third-parties to work with Intel and TSMC to add technology of their own to the platform.

We've discussed Intel's plan to take on ARM with x86 chips many times in the past - even before Intel sold off its own ARM product line to Marvell in 2006. Otellini's comments about the TSMC deal indicate he wants Atom to become a licensed architecture like ARM, one other chip makers can take and adapt to their needs, but retain a core level of compatibility.

That's doubly interesting given the plan, also announced yesterday, to encourage Atom-specific software development.

Looking ahead, Otellini revealed a basic Atom roadmap that will take the platform to 32nm, 22nm then 15nm. The 32nm versions is codenamed 'Saltwell', and is clearly a die-shrink from today's 45nm 'Bonnell'. But the 22nm and 15nm implementations will be new-core products, he revealed.

Bonnell, incidentally, is the overarching core design that led to 'Silverthorne' handheld tablet and netbook Atoms and 'Diamondville' desktop Atoms.

Each of these will feature in SoC platforms. One of the first is the little-mention 'Sodaville', an Atom-based part for consumer electronics kit. Indeed, Intel demo'd a handful of set-top box reference designs at IDF, all based on Sodaville.

Bonnell is also the basis for the upcoming 'Moorestown' MID platform which is now due mid 2010, though it won't appear in shipping devices until H2 2010, Otellini admitted. That's more time for netbooks to really take hold as the mobile browsing platform of choice.

Intel insists Atom isn't cannibalising mainstream processor sales, but it's clear that it wants to be shipping products for a lot more devices than PCs, and unless you count Intel's upcoming CPU+GPU products as SoCs - they are, but only if your definition of 'SoC' is very broad - then Otellini's statement implies that Atom will become a far more important product to Intel over the next five years than the Core i series and possibly Xeon.

We suspect Otellini was including more highly integrated PC CPUs in among 'true' SoCs for his sales forecast, along with new and upcoming integrated Xeon server chips.

But Atom remains the most important component of Intel's SoC strategy. It's the spearhead of Intel's latest push into embedded markets - Otellini claimed Atom has more than 460 design wins in this arena, many of them, we'd note, are the kind of apps you'd expect to find ARM chips in.

That's not to say Atom is beating ARM - manufacturers are conducting many, many more than 460 embedded application projects at the moment - but as these projects increasingly seek to bring internet connectivity on board, these two platforms can't help but become pre-eminent, and not just in the netbook vs smartbook battle.

Intel will be providing more details about its Atom-based SoC roadmap later today. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Don't wait for that big iPad, order a NEXUS 9 instead, industry little bird says
Google said to debut next big slab, Android L ahead of Apple event
Xperia Z3: Crikey, Sony – ANOTHER flagship phondleslab?
The Fourth Amendment... and it IS better
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
A drone of one's own: Reg buyers' guide for UAV fanciers
Hardware: Check. Software: Huh? Licence: Licence...?
The Apple launch AS IT HAPPENED: Totally SERIOUS coverage, not for haters
Fandroids, Windows Phone fringe-oids – you wouldn't understand
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
Here's your chance to buy an ancient, working APPLE ONE
Warning: Likely to cost a lot even for a Mac
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.