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April - 2008 - issue > Tech Tracker
Intel unveils Atom
Christo Jacob
Monday, March 31, 2008
Intel will corral all its processors for mobile Internet devices (MIDs) and low cost PCs under a new brand name dubbed Intel Atom- the smallest processor till date. The chip maker’s new Atom brand includes its Diamondville chip for low cost laptops and its Silverthorne processor for MIDs. The platform for small devices, which had been code named Menlow, is now renamed Intel Centrino Atom.

The new family of chips is based on an entirely new CPU architecture that was designed from the ground up, specifically to address the computing and power consumption requirements of MIDs and Ultra Mobile PCs (UMPCs). Comprising of some 47 million transistors, Intel’s new Atom processor die measures 25mm2; so small that eleven of the cores could sit on a U.S. penny. Built on Intel’s 45nm hafnium-infused high-K process, the chips are said to have power consumption characteristics in the 0.6 to 2.5 watt range, though they’re reported to have 512 KB of on-chip cache and an operating frequency topping out at 1.8 GHz currently.

Analysts find that Atom’s biggest advantage is its inherently superior support for PC applications, which could bring more well tested x86 software to set top boxes (STBs), automotive infotainment devices, ultra mobile computers, and devices like the TiVo.

The entry of Atom as a part of Intel Centrino chipset would be a take on ARM’s chipsets. Recently a report said that already Panasonic has used Intel’s Atom chips, which is the first to incorporate in its ruggedized Toughbook version showing off at SnowBIT.
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