Silverthorne becomes Atom

Intel has been talking about its “Menlow” Mobile Internet Device platform and “Silverthorne” processor for the better part of the past year. We even got a chance to sample some prototypes last spring at Computex. This morning, Intel finally slapped a brand on the products and announced them to the general public.

“Silverthorne,” the ultra-low-power processor at the heart of the “Menlow” platform, has been dubbed Atom. The Atom processor will show up in devices branded with the Centrino Atom label, which Intel has chosen to denote the “Menlow” platform that encompasses Atom, a low-power chipset with integrated graphics, and a wireless radio. Intel says this new platform is designed for handheld Mobile Internet Devices, but the company’s Director of Basic Mobility Platforms, Uday Marty, also points out in a video related to the launch that Centrino Atom hardware will also appear in clamshell-style notebooks as well as desktops. Indeed, the Atom label applies to the “Diamondville” processor, which is expected to show up in forthcoming Eee PC desktops from Asus.

Both Silverthorne and Diamondville are single-core designs built using 45nm process technology, and they’re rated for operation at up to 1.8GHz with thermal envelopes ranging from 0.6W to 2.5W. The chips are built using a new architecture Intel says it designed “from the ground up” for mobility and low power use, but they’re fully compatible with the instruction set used in existing Core 2 Duo processors. As rumored, Atom chips also feature “support for multiple threads”—likely meaning simultaneous multi-threading, which Intel implemented in the Pentium 4 as Hyper-Threading. All in all, Atom processors feature 47 million transistors each and die areas of just 25 mm². To put this lilliputian size in perspective, Intel says you’d need 11 Atom CPUs to fill the area of a U.S. penny.

Centrino Atom devices are expected to become available later this year. Intel doesn’t quote any prices in its official press release, but in another video, the company’s Mobile Platforms Group VP Mooly Eden suggests Centrino Atom MIDs should range from $249-399.

Comments closed
    • bogbox
    • 12 years ago

    good name atom . what’s the name of next brand of mobil processor Electron, proton?

      • LoneWolf15
      • 12 years ago

      Quark. Even SMALLER than Atom! 😉

    • Tarx
    • 12 years ago

    I do like the name – no it isn’t great, but it still a very good pick for Intel.
    I’d be interested in one for an Eee class notebook but only if it has HT.

    • fantastic
    • 12 years ago

    Desktops you say? $10 says if it does happen, it won’t be bigger than mini-ITX. Or it will be proprietary or an “industrial” computer.

      • UberGerbil
      • 12 years ago

      “Slim” desktops (eg Dell Inspiron 530s), all-in-ones, kiosks, Point of Sale systems (many of which are in 1GHz Celeron territory, even now)… it’s a huge market. Just not one “enthusiasts” are interested in.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 12 years ago

      I’d be a bit more than moderately interested in a low-power, in both power draw and processing power, small form factor that doesn’t cost an excessive amount like VIAs mini-ITX systems. Making a custom but very compact, fanless media streamer that can do other basic tasks would be the start. At this time it’s an excercise for fun not cost advantage versus the various good pre-made units and cost advantage is a big reason I started the computer hobby. Intel’s production and marketing power could really drive down the prices of such DIY or semi-packaged units. TheDGLY2A Celeron ITX motherboardsa re a good start toward this but lack a few key features to make them usable with modern add-on parts and peripherals partly due to the SiS chipset. I suppose a cheap laptop would fill the role as well but there’s not much hobby in that.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 12 years ago

    Forget UMPC’s, these things need to go into small laptops like the Eee or the Cloudbook and get cheaper laptops out to the masses.

    • Madman
    • 12 years ago

    Nice to see more energy saving equipment coming out. GeForce 9600, Atom, finally someone does something about those 900W power issues.

    • Xenolith
    • 12 years ago

    What is the max power TDP?

    • Flying Fox
    • 12 years ago

    Will be looking forward to see an EeePC with this. Can they get to 8-10 hours on standard battery?

      • UberGerbil
      • 12 years ago

      Is there any evidence that the primary source of battery drain in the Eee is the CPU? The larger battery is 5200 mAh and it gets about 3 hours ouf of that; since it is using a Dothan ULV 353 with a 5W TDP, the CPU must represent only about 33% of the total power draw (that’s a /very]/ rough estimate, of course). It’s likely you’ll need one of the faster (2.5W TDP) Silverthorne / Diamondville chips to get reasonable performance, which suggests you’ll only get back about half of that 33%, or about another 30 minutes. You’d get more if they really could use one of the sub 1W chips, but even if the CPU was effectively zero W you couldn’t get more than the hour the CPU is currently consuming — that’s still isn’t going to take you close to 10 hours.

      Of course Intel claims a lot of additional power savings in the chipset and overall platform, but they need to cut the power draw on everything by something like 60%, and for some things like the display that’s going to require new and different technology. The Eee does seem to use a lot of power for what it does, so perhaps there are additional efficiencies for ASUS to find. Tripling the battery life using the same battery still sounds like a tall order, though.

        • Flying Fox
        • 12 years ago

        Yea… Intel has been talking “all day computing” (8 hours) for the longest time, so we will see if they can help deliver a platform that can achieve that on a smallish platform. I’m hopeful but think we can only see it realistically in the next platform (or even the one after) after Menlow.

    • rivieracadman
    • 12 years ago

    These would be great chips for light weight tablets or UMPC setups.

    • sigher
    • 12 years ago

    uh oh, now intel will copyright the name atom and anybody using atoms will have to pay :/

    • R2P2
    • 12 years ago

    I think we’ve reached the point where the number of cores in any new CPU needs to be mentioned, even if it’s just one. Atom is single-core only, right? No dual/quad variants?

      • Cyril
      • 12 years ago

      Yeah, it’s single-core. I’ve updated the post to clarify this.

        • Hattig
        • 12 years ago

        I’ve read elsewhere (DailyTech) that Intel might release a dual core Diamondville, with an 8W TDP, in the last part of the year.

        From their info, it seems that:

        Silverthorne / Atom (SMT disabled) = 0.6W – 2.5W TDP (1.6GHz).
        Diamondville / Atom (SMT) = up to 4W TDP (1.6GHz).

        Makes sense as the in-order design of the Silverthorne core would mean a lot of bubbles for a second thread to fill, hence the greater power consumption.

        What about the performance of a Silverthorne core? Is it still 1.6GHz Silverthorne = 800MHz Dothan, roughly? With or without SMT?

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