New Intel system-on-chip designs feature x86 cores

Intel is putting its x86 architecture everywhere lately—graphics processors, handhelds, and now even system-on-chip designs. Indeed, the company has unveiled a new generation of SoC offerings that feature x86 processor cores derived from the Pentium M. Known as the EP80579 Integrated Processor family, the new SoC line will debut this quarter and spread to consumer electronics, mobile Internet devices, and other embedded applications like security systems, communications equipment, and industrial robotics hardware.

Left: the EP80579 package. Right: the EP80579 die (not to scale). Source: Intel.

The EP80579 is launching in eight flavors. Those chips have 800-1200MHz CPU cores, 256KB of L2 cache, 400-800MHz integrated DDR2 memory controllers, and a “variety of integrated communications and embedded I/O controllers” including triple Gigabit Ethernet, dual USB, dual Serial ATA, and PCI Express (in 1×8, 2×4, or 2×1 lane configurations). Four of the chips also feature QuickAssist Technology, which they use to “accelerate cryptographic and packet processing for security appliances.” The QA-capable models have 13-21W power envelopes, while those without QA will draw only 11-19W. Intel claims the EP80579 series may consume up to 34% less power with 45%-smaller board footprints than older SoCs.

That’s not all. Intel says it’s working on no fewer than 15 SoC projects, “many” of which it will base on the Atom CPU core. Those projects include Canmore, which will hit consumer electronics devices later this year, and Sodaville, a second-gen model due to materialize in 2009—right around the time Intel expects to unleash its second-gen Centrino Atom platform, which should also be a SoC.

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