Late last week, new details emerged on Intel's upcoming Silvermont Atom processor. Due in 2013, this chip represents the first architectural refresh for Intel's low-power CPU. Although the Atom has received numerous upgrades since its debut back in 2008, including extra cores, higher clock speeds, and increased platform integration, the CPU core has remained largely the same.
We don't yet know what Intel intends to change with Silvermont, but AnandTech expects the current in-order architecture to be replaced with a more traditional out-of-order design. That move alone should greatly improve performance, and we could be in for more cores and higher clock speeds, as well.
Silvermont is slated to be built on Intel's new tri-gate 22-nm process, putting it a little behind the 22-nano Ivy Bridge CPUs expected to appear in early 2012. That schedule mirrors what Intel is doing with 32-nm Atom CPUs, which aren't due out until the end of this year.
Interestingly, Intel appears set on moving the Atom to a more aggressive development cycle. The firm has been on a five-year development cycle for new Atom architectures, but Silvermont is due for a major refresh after just two years. Increasing competition from ARM-based CPUs is surely responsible for the more aggressive development cycle, and it should make the world of low-power CPUs even more interesting moving forward.