Intel expands its Atoms' radius with C3000 SoCs


— 3:30 PM on August 17, 2017

Intel's Core architecture gets the lion and the tiger's share of attention around here, but the company still makes Atom chips. To wit, Intel just rolled out the Atom C3000 SoCs, its third series of Atom chips. In all, Intel announced 20 new models packing anywhere from two to 16 Goldmont cores, support for 128 GB or 256 GB of DDR4 ECC memory across one or two channels, support for up to four 10 Gigabit Ethernet connections, and Intel's Quick Assist Technology encryption acceleration.

Each pair of cores in each SoC shares 2 MB of L2 cache. Buyers can choose models with anywhere from one to eight pairs of cores. Device manufacturers can add a pair of PCIe x8 slots, up to 16 SATA ports, and USB 3.0 using the six-to-20 lanes of High-Speed I/O (HSIO) connectivity, depending on the exact Atom model. Memory can come in the form of SODIMMs, UDIMMS, or RDIMMs.

Intel divides the Atom C3000 chips into three groups: one intended for use in servers and cloud storage machines, one for network and enterprise storage, and one for IoT applications and extended ambient temperature conditions.

  CPU
Cores
Speed Power HSIO
Lanes
Memory Support Ethernet Quick
Assist
Atom C3955 16 2.1 GHz 32 W 20 2400 MT/s, 2 ch 4 x 10 GbE No
Atom C3950 16 1.7 GHz 24 W 20 2400 MT/s, 2 ch 2 x 10 GbE No
Atom C3850 12 2.1 GHz 25 W 20 2400 MT/s, 2 ch 2 x 10 GbE No
Atom C3830 12 1.9 GHz 21.5 W 12 2133 MT/s, 2 ch 2 x 10 GbE No
Atom C3750 8 2.2 GHz 21 W 12 2400 MT/s, 2 ch 2 x 10 GbE No

Server and cloud storage SoCs

We're talking about an Intel product launch, so product segmentation is the name of the game. The server and cloud storage models shown above are available with eight to 16 CPU cores, but the Quick Assist encryption acceleration is not available. All models in the group have a pair of integrated 10 GbE controllers, except the Atom C3955 that packs four.

  CPU
Cores
Speed Power

HSIO
Lanes

Memory Support Ethernet Quick
Assist
Atom C3958

16

2.0 GHz 31 W 20 2400 MT/s, 2 ch 4 x 10 GbE up to
20 Gbps
Atom C3858 12 2.0 GHz 25 W 20 2400 MT/s, 2 ch 4 x 10 GbE up to
20 Gbps
Atom C3758 8 2.2 GHz 25 W 20 2400 MT/s, 2 ch 4 x 10 GbE up to
10 Gbps
Atom C3558 4 2.2 GHz 16 W 12 2133 MT/s, 2 ch 2 x 2.5 GbE +
2 x 10 GbE
up to 5 Gbps
Atom C3538 4 2.1 GHz 15 W 12 2133 MT/s, 2 ch 2 x 2.5 GbE +
2 x 10 GbE
up to 5 Gbps,
compression only
Atom C3338 2 1.5 GHz 8.5 W up to 10 1866 MT/s, 1 ch 2 x 2.25 GbE No

Network and enterprise storage SoCs

All members of the network and enterprise storage family (save the entry-level Atom C3338) sport at least some form of Quick Assist acceleration. Another interesting note is that some models also support the burgeoning 2.5GBASE-T and 5GBASE-T networking standards. Thus far, the only products we've seen embracing this standard pack Aquantia controllers. Gigabyte has already announced one motherboard based around the Atom C3958 SoC.

  CPU Cores Speed Power HSIO
Lanes
Memory Support Ethernet Quick
Assist
Atom C3808 12 2.0 GHz 24 W up to 20 2133 MT/s, 2 Ch 4 x 10 GbE up to 20 Gbps
Atom C3708 8 1.7 GHz 17 W 20 2133 MT/s, 2 Ch 4 x 10 GbE up to 10 Gbps
Atom C3508 4 1.6 GHz 11.5 W 8 1866 MT/s, 2 Ch 4 x 2.5 GbE up to 5 Gbps
Atom C3308 2 1.6 GHz 9.5 W 6 1866 MT/s, 1 Ch 4 x 2.5 GbE up to 5 Gbps

IoT and extended ambient operation temperature SoCs

The last group of Atoms is the smallest. The number of CPU cores in this lot tops out at 12, but all models support Quick Assist with at least 5 Gbps throughput. Before "IoT" achieved buzzword status, these chips would probably have been marketed for embedded applications. In any case, they are rated to operate at temperatures from a bone-chilling -40° F all the way up to a blistering 185° F (-40° C to 85° C).

According to Intel, Quick Assist technology offers up to 20 Gbps of cryptography throughput and as much as 20 Gbps of compression output, freeing up CPU cycles for other tasks. The new SoC's enhanced networking capabilities look suited to Intel's vision of positioning these systems as network appliances and 5G base stations with server capabilities.

According to Intel's Ark, the top-of-the-line Atom C3958 rings in at $449, though the SoC pricing is probably purely academic because consumers will only find them soldered onto motherboards or as parts of complete systems. The least-capable chip, the Atom C3338, lands at a meager $27. Somewhat more detailed information is available in Intel's Atom C3000 Processor Product Brief.

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