Inside Intel’s Atom Z600 series

The Atom processor was something of a surprise success for Intel. The company expected its product to succeed, of course, but perhaps not in the manner it did. When we first visited the Atom’s Austin, Texas-based design team, the spotlight was firmly affixed on the low-power Menlow platform. Intel expected Menlow to find its way into several different sorts of handheld mobile devices, including GPS receivers and portable game players. Most notably of all, it hoped to see a new category of Atom-based products, variously called ultra-mobile PCs (UMPCs) and mobile Internet devices (MIDs), become a consumer favorite. The other, larger Atom platform, code-named Diamondville and aimed at low-cost notebooks and desktops, was almost an afterthought.

Yet even at that time, the prospects for a UMPC revolution seemed dim, particularly in light of the iPhone’s rising popularity. What happened instead was the explosion of low-cost netbooks, scads of ’em, as a robust new product category, almost all of them based on Diamondville. Suddenly the Atom was everywhere, just not in the form Intel had anticipated.

The reasons for Menlow’s relative unpopularity were no great mystery. Although the Menlow platform—comprised of the Silverthorne processor and the Poulsbo chipset—was smaller and required less power than any prior PC-compatible solution, it was still too big and power-hungry to fit into traditional smart phones and the like. With MIDs moribund, Menlow was stuck between classes, a product without a true home. Intel’s attempts to lure phone makers away from ARM processors predictably gained little traction.

Then again, Menlow was only a first step. Intel’s plans for the Atom have long called for reductions in the size and power draw of the Atom platform while keeping computing power relatively steady. Late last year, Diamondville gave way to Pine Trail, with one third of the physical footprint and 40% lower max power consumption, ushering in a wave of netbooks with up to 10 hours of battery life for under $300. Increased integration made that change possible even without a move to a newer chip fabrication process. Now, the second-generation low-power Atom platform, code-named Moorestown, is poised to take a much larger step into wholly new territory for an x86 processor: directly into the size and power requirements of smart phones and tablets.

To get there, the design team has conducted a sweeping revamp of the Atom platform, integrating more components into the main chip and making extensive modifications throughout to reduce power consumption. The result is a claimed 50X reduction in platform-wide idle power draw versus Menlow, in a package that takes up 40% less area, mounted on boards half the size of the previous generation. Intel believes Moorestown is competitive with existing smart phone platforms in terms of size and power efficiency, but with roughly double the performance. The Atom has the added benefit of x86 compatibility, for whatever that’s worth in the realm of handheld devices. We recently visted Intel’s Austin Design Center to learn more about Moorestown, and it was an education in what’s required to shrink a PC-compatible system into a pocket-sized form factor.

The Lincroft SoC

Technically, a trio of chips makes up the Moorestown platform, but don’t let that fact fool you. Moorestown is more tightly integrated than ever before and will require fewer auxiliary chips in order to function. The most noteworthy of the three chips is code-named Lincroft, and it has enough platform elements integrated into a single piece of silicon that Intel calls it a system on a chip, or SoC. Inside the Lincroft SoC resides an Atom CPU core, a front-side bus interconnect, a memory controller, a 3D graphics core, video playback and encoding units, and a display engine. The companion Langwell platform controller hub (PCH) chip handles traditional I/O duties, and the Briertown MSIC largely serves as a platform power manager. We’ll take a look at each one in turn, starting with Lincroft.

The Langwell PCH (left) and Lincroft SoC (right). Source: Intel.

You might be surprised to learn that Lincroft isn’t being manufactured using Intel’s latest 32-nm fabrication process, even though the firm has been shipping 32-nm desktop and server processors for months. Instead, Lincroft is built using a variant of Intel’s 45-nm, high-k metal gate process tailored for low-power applications. One benefit of this process is the ability to use multiple transistor types, something the Atom team says they’ve done for Lincroft. They declined, however, to reveal any specifics about how the different transistor types are being used.

Generally, we’ve seen two different transistor types deployed in low-power processor designs: a slower variant with lower leakage for circuitry not in the critical performance path, plus a faster variant with higher leakage for gates that must switch quickly. We expect Intel is doing something along those lines with Lincroft, which would explain how they’re able to claim a 60% reduction in leakage power with negligible performance loss.

The custom SoC process also enables integration by supporting the higher voltages required by some types of I/O, including display standards like LVDS.

All told, Lincroft measures 7.3 mm by 8.9 mm, or 65.3 mm², with roughly 140 million transistors packed into that space. That’s quite a bit larger than the prior-gen Silverthorne Atom, whose 47 million transistors occupied just over 24 mm², but moving more components from the chipset into Lincroft’s 45-nm silicon is almost certainly an advantage. Crucially for its intended market, Lincroft’s package is still relatively small at 13.8 mm by 13.8 mm.

The Lincroft SoC (continued)

The Atom processor core in Lincroft isn’t much changed, architecturally, from the first generation; it still supports a wide range of alphabet-soup instructions, up to SSE3 but no further, and is 64-bit capable. One core can still track and execute two threads simultaneously via Hyper-Threading, and cache sizes remain steady, with a 32KB L1 instruction cache, a 24KB L1 data cache, and a 512KB L2 cache. The team hasn’t made any noteworthy tweaks to improve per-clock instruction throughput or to extend the core’s capabilities.

A simple block diagram of the Lincroft SoC. Source: Intel.

Changes throughout the chip should improve the processor’s performance and power efficiency, regardless. Most notably, clock frequencies are up—and down. They’re down because the chip’s SpeedStep dynamic clocking mechanism can now drop the core’s frequency as low as 200MHz at idle, versus 600MHz for Silverthorne. They’re up thanks to the addition of a “burst mode” in this new Atom similar to the Turbo Boost feature familiar from Intel’s recent desktop and server processors.

Burst mode raises clock speeds opportunistically when the thermal headroom of the chip and the device will permit, as high as 1.5GHz in the smart-phone-oriented versions of Lincroft and up to 1.9GHz in the tablet-oriented variants. The Atom core can run in burst mode indefinitely so long as the thermal headroom is sufficient, so larger devices like tablets might spend quite a bit of time in burst mode, whereas smart phones may not.

Lincroft’s burst mode differs from Turbo Boost in a couple of notable ways. For one, the advertised clock frequency for a given Atom model will be its peak burst mode frequency, not a lower, guaranteed baseline speed. In fact, we came away from our visit to Austin without any record of the baseline clock speeds of the new Atoms. When we later asked Intel what those base frequencies would be, the firm declined to answer! That base clock is the advertised speed for the Core i7 and friends. Another major difference, one that pervades nearly every component in Moorestown, is the fact that software has extensive control over the CPU’s clock frequencies. A handset maker could, for instance, choose to enable burst mode in only in certain scenarios where it might be needed, such as playing back YouTube videos. Alternately, it could decide to leave burst mode enabled generally, but turn it off in specific situations, like during voice calls when the phone must also power a modem.

The Atom’s front-side bus uses the same protocol as past Atoms, even though it’s now communicating with other components on the same chip. The FSB has gained some of the same clock speed flexibility that the CPU has, though, with its own version of, erm, forced induction. The speed of Lincroft’s front-side bus scales dynamically with the speed of the CPU core, peaking at 200MHz or 800 MT/s—double the max of Menlow and Silverthorne. As I understand it, the FSB clock will remain at 200MHz any time the CPU rages above 1.2GHz. When the CPU drops to between 600 and 1200MHz, the bus will run at 100MHz, and when the CPU goes to 200MHz, the bus can range down to 50 or even 25MHz. The caveat here is that some workloads might use relatively little CPU power and still need a fair amount of bus bandwidth. Either Intel or the device maker will have to tune the platform to make sure this feature doesn’t harm performance in such scenarios.

To meet the power requirements of smart phones, Lincroft’s memory controller supports a single, 32-bit channel of low-power DDR memory at 400 MT/s. Larger devices like tablets can use DDR2 memory at 800 MT/s, but the lower bandwidth of LP DDR was a particular concern for Lincroft’s architects. Belli Kuttanna, Sr. Principal Architect in Intel’s Ultra Mobility Group, told us they tried to offset the memory bandwidth lost during the switch to LP DDR RAM by making memory scheduling improvements to increase DRAM utilization. In his assessment, they’ve more or less “broken even, clock for clock” by doing so.

Lincroft’s memory arbiter deals with memory access requests coming in from multiple devices in the system. The arbiter’s buffer size is doubled in Lincroft, and it has been tweaked to do a better job of coalescing requests where possible, especially those from the graphics and media subsystems. One reason for the changes, according to Kuttanna, was making sure the chip could deal well with concurrent workloads—for instance, playing music and display 3D graphics at the same time, perhaps—in a bandwidth-constrained environment.

Of course, the memory controller now works harder to keep power consumption low, too, with extensive DRAM power management and more aggressive policies for the closing of DRAM pages.

The graphics processor in Lincroft is the same Imagination Tech IGP used in Menlow, but it now runs at up to twice the clock speed. The Atom team says it made performance optimizations “around” the IGP—such as the memory coalescing we’ve just mentioned—and power use optimizations “in and around” it. The result should be better graphics performance than Menlow, and Intel claims an advantage of 2-4X over any competitors that use the same graphics core, thanks to the combination of a better implementation, integration, the benefits of Intel’s 45-nm process, and better drivers.

Lincroft carries over the Imagination Tech video decoding and playback logic from Menlow, as well, with support for a broad array of formats including MPEG2/4, WMV9, VC1, H.264 and DivX. Intel is promising better video decoding performance this time around, which would be nice given our experience with the Poulsbo-based Acer Aspire One 751. Any improvements are likely due to higher clock speeds, the memory arbiter changes, or both. In fact, the firm says Lincroft can decode H.264 video streams at bit rates of up to 20 Mbps in 1080p resolution with all profiles, putting its capabilities well above competing platforms that top out at 720p or below.

To this decoding prowess, Lincroft adds a new feature: a hardware video encoding engine, also from Imagination Tech, capable of squeezing 720p video into several formats, including MPEG4 and H.264 base profile, at up to 30 FPS. Obviously, the encoder should be useful both for capturing video and for doing video conferencing on a Moorestown-based device.

Two new power states to seal the deal

All of the tweaks and integration would be insufficient to reach the power levels required by smart phones if Lincroft didn’t include much more drastic power-saving measures. The real heavy hitters are the introduction of very fine-grained power delivery on the chip and a pair of new power states intended to make use of it.

The Lincroft team has divided the chip into a whopping total of 19 separate “power islands,” each with its own clock and power gating. Power gating is accomplished via on-die switches that cut off power entirely to idle “islands.” These various power islands are served by a total of 12 different voltage supply rails coming into the chip—quite an increase over Silverthorne’s dual power planes. The external Briertown MSIC makes the increased granularity possible by managing power delivery for Lincroft’s 12 rails and the rest of the platform.

The end result should be that Lincroft will consume only as much power as it needs for the portions of the chip that are in use. During a compute-intensive task, for example, the Atom CPU core might be fully powered on and active, along with the memory subsystem, but the graphics, video, and display logic could be consuming little to no power.

Even more important for interactive devices is how they’re handled during a typical day. Lincroft has added a couple of new power states aimed at the usage models for smart phones and tablets, with the catchy names S0i1 and S0i3. The basics of those power states are laid out in the table below.

A quick look at the status of various resources in different platform power states. Source: Intel.

S0 is the familiar state when the system is active and the CPU is transitioning between its various C-states, depending on the level of activity. Some power gating is possible when Lincroft is in S0, but there are opportunities to be more efficient. During everyday, interactive use of a mobile device, the system is waiting for user input for countless instants. Many of these are just fractions of a second, but to a computer, they’re relatively vast expanses of time. During these periods, Lincroft will drop into its S0i1 power state, engaging extensive power gating throughout the chip while the CPU core drops into a deep C6 sleep.

For S0i1 to be effective, the system must spend as much time as possible resident in that state, so the ability to make quick transitions is crucial. Thus, the onboard wake-up logic remains active, while the power manager and the CPU retain their state information on-chip. Intel claims the entry latency for S0i1 is only 600 microseconds; the exit latency is longer at 1.2 milliseconds, though surely quick enough to escape user perception. One can imagine a smart phone or tablet transitioning in and out of S0i1 constantly as a user checks his voice mail, browses through e-mail, and surfs the web.

When that’s over, the user generally locks the phone and slips it into a pocket, at which point Lincroft should drop into its new S0i3 power state, turning off nearly everything on the chip, including the wake-up logic, the CPU, and the onboard power manager. The entry latency for S0i3 is only 450 microseconds (less than S0i1 because much of the chip will already be turned off), and waking up from S0i3 will take 3.1 milliseconds—much longer than S0i1, but presumably short enough not to be a problem when the user hits a button or an incoming call is detected.

This class of power management goes well beyond standard practice in most PCs, and the team made a host of changes to ensure that it’s effective in Lincroft: adding power gating for the analog blocks like PLLs and thermal sensors, reducing the fuse array sensing time to quicken transitions into standby mode, optimizing SRAM power use when the CPU is in C6 sleep, and the like.

The Langwell PCH

The various types of I/O and connectivity that weren’t integrated directly into Lincroft were instead incorporated into the Langwell south bridge, or platform controller hub (PCH), in Intel-speak. Intel manufactures Langwell on a low-leakage 65-nm fabrication process and puts it into a BGA package that measures 14 mm on each side, or 196 mm². As one might expect, Langwell is very different from a desktop PC south bridge; it supports a variety of I/O types geared specifically for handheld devices. Even its USB support, which would seem familiar at a glance, is a low-power variant of the desktop standard.

A simple block diagram of the Langwell PCH. Source: Intel.

As with most south bridges, to explain Langwell is to recite a laundry list of I/O types mashed together on one chip. You can read about most of them in the block diagram on the right. Several of the chip’s features and limitations deserve a little more attention, though.

Storage support is among them, because the Langwell PCH has no traditional disk controller; only solid-state NAND flash is supported. For phones, that limitation won’t likely matter, but for tablets and other devices, it may be something of a problem. The NAND interface should be fast enough; at 32 bits wide and 100MHz, it can sustain transfer rates up to 400 MB/s—beyond the transfer rates of current flash chips. Hard drives offer more and cheaper gigabytes, though.

An interesting note on that front: you won’t see it in the block diagram to the right, but the more detailed information Intel displayed during our visit showed a CE-ATA interface built into Langwell. The CE-ATA standard was intended to act as a disk interface for mobile devices, but it has since been abandoned, leaving Langwell dependent only on solid-state storage. I’d expect to see some alternative hard drive interface added to future derivatives of this south bridge.

The media support in Langwell looks to be quite robust. HDMI is supported at resolutions up to 1080p and beyond, with audio over the same connection. The audio block includes dedicated hardware for decoding MP3s—more on this feature in a minute—and the image processing block holds a signal processor with support for two cameras: a five-megapixel main camera and a VGA-class secondary one, presumably a front-facing camera to be used for video conferencing.

Like Lincroft, Langwell has fine-grained power management built in, as well.

One man’s PMIC is another man’s MSIC

The final bit of silicon in the Moorestown trio is the Briertown MSIC. Most smart phones have a PMIC, or Power Management Integrated Circuit, and essentially, so does Moorestown. However, Intel prefers its own name for Briertown: MSIC, for mixed-signal IC. Briertown is the least complex of the Moorestown chips, and although it was designed by Intel, its manufacturing has been outsourced to NEC, Freescale, and Maxim.

A simple block diagram of the Briertown MSIC. Source: Intel.

Like any other PMIC, Briertown’s primary job is indeed power management. It controls power delivery to Lincroft and Langwell, switching on and off their multiple supply rails as needed. The quick voltage changes directed by Briertown facilitate several nice platform behaviors, such as quicker transitions in and out of low-power states (for longer residency in them) and faster ramps into burst mode for Lincroft’s Atom core. Briertown is also responsible for keeping the battery charged, a pretty critical chore in a mobile device.

The Briertown MSIC has other jobs, too—a mish-mash of different facilities that the Moorestown team calls “jelly beans.” The, uh, beans are often bits of logic that would have to be provided by a separate chip, were they not included in Moorestown’s main silicon. Briertown contains a number of these dedicated units, like a touch-screen controller and analog sensors. Sometimes it teams up with Langwell to provide a complete solution path, as it does for sound by providing a codec compatible with Langwell’s audio controller. Pulling these functions into the PCH and MSIC, Intel asserts, saves space and power compared to separate chips.

OSPM

In order to keep Moorestown’s power-saving hardware operating as efficiently as possible, Intel has implemented platform-wide support for a power management protocol called OSPM, or Operating System Power Management. OSPM provides fine-grained, software-directed control of hardware power states. Moorestown Platform Architect Bruce Fleming described for us the difference between typical ACPI power management as used in Menlow—where the system is either on, off, or sleeping—and OSPM on Moorestown, where each subsystem has integrated power management. With OSPM, system devices are actively managed and are individually, asynchronously put into low-power states, to be brought out only when their services are needed.

OSPM doesn’t just facilitate efficient operation generally, either. The control it exposes over hardware states allows for custom programming of specific operating modes, such as the example we described above where CPU burst mode is disabled during a voice call to reserve power for the modem. Another custom mode could ensure sufficient bus bandwidth when the CPU is largely idle but other logic is active by keeping the FSB clock from dropping too low.

All of Moorestown’s considerable capabilities come together in one particular use case the team described to us: the playback of MP3-encoded audio. While audio is playing, the audio engine and MP3 decode hardware are active, but the other components in the system are in a low-power state. Every so often, the path to memory is enabled, the audio engine fills its buffer, and the memory subsystem quickly returns to a low-power state. Because the audio engine is capable of direct memory access, the CPU doesn’t have to wake up during this refresh. Music keeps playing without interruption while most of the system is asleep.

Yeah, I’m gonna date myself by saying this, but to an old Amiga guy, that’s just frickin’ sweet.

Putting some numbers to it

What have all of these changes really netted in terms of power efficiency and performance? We haven’t tested Moorestown ourselves, but Intel’s Anjali Shastri, Strategic Marketing Manager in the Ultra Mobility Group, presented some results she compiled during competitive testing. The first set of data compares Moorestown to Menlow, the prior-generation low-power Atom platform.

Task Platform power draw in milliwatts
Menlow Moorestown
Standby ~1400 21
Audio playback ~2500 116
HD video playback 3200-3500 1110
Web browsing ~2500 1120

Moorestown consumes only 21 mW of power in standby, presumably in the S0i3 power state. That’s down massively from Menlow, hence the claims of reductions in idle power use of “over 50X”. Audio playback is that special use case we’ve just explored, and obviously, it’s a huge win for Moorestown, as well. The percentage reductions in power use during video playback and web browsing aren’t as spectacular, but they’re solid, nonetheless.

Shastri didn’t present a direct comparison of power draw numbers versus competing smart phone platforms, but she did offer some battery life results. The run times are based on a Blackberry battery.

Task Battery life
“Leading

smart phones”

Moorestown
Standby 6-14 days >10 days
Audio playback 0.5-1.2 days ~2 days
SD video playback 4-11 hours ~5 hours
Web browsing 3-7 hours ~5 hours

These results would seem to confirm that Intel has met its goal of producing an Atom platform capable of competing head to head with the ARM-based incumbents in the smart phone market. That is a breathtaking accomplishment for a platform with PC roots that is still binary compatible with today’s fastest processors.

The other dimension of the story, of course, is performance. On this front, we got only a small peek at some comparative data. The competing platforms tested were based on popular ARM cores: single- and dual-core Cortex A8, Cortex A9, and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon platform. (Shastri hadn’t yet tested an Apple A4.) All of the results presented were relative. For instance, in SPECint2000, Moorestown outperformed the competing solutions by 1.5X. For SPECintRate, the margin was 3X. 3DMark Mobile ES 2.0 was used to measure graphics speed, and SunSpider to measure JavaScript performance. In both of those cases, Moorestown was two to four times faster than the competition.

These are Intel-supplied numbers, so you can make of them what you will, but they certainly sound promising.

Now what?

These chips won’t be called by their code names forever—at least, not by most folks, though we reserve the right to keep using them. Already, with their announcement, Lincoft, Langwell, and Briertown have magically transformed into the Atom Z600 series, the MP20 Platform Controller Hub, and the MSIC, respectively. Intel expects to see consumer products based on the Moorestown platform become available to consumers some time within the second half of this year—a large, vague window, but that’s all we have.

One of the more intriguing questions about Moorestown is what form those products will take. Intel says the platform will initially support two operating systems: Google’s Android and the MeeGo mobile Linux distro, the artist formerly known as Moblin. We’d expect Moorestown to be Windows-compatible, too, eventually, given its x86 compatibility and the fact that Menlow runs Windows reasonably well.

Aava Mobile’s Atom-based smart phone. Source: Intel.

So far, we only know of two devices definitely slated use Moorestown, the Aava Mobile smart phone pictured above and the OpenPeak tablet pictured below.

OpenPeak’s tablet. Source: Intel.

Intel says it’s only working with “a handful of smart phone makers” right now, but it hopes to see a larger variety of Moorestown-based tablets. I suspect we’ll see tablets from many of the big names in netbooks, such as Acer, Asus, and MSI.

We’re dubious about whether a flock of iPad wannabes will qualify the Atom Z600 series as a commercial success. Smart phones are an established market, while tablets could still potentially fall into the same void that UMPCs and MIDs did before them. With the best smart-phone operating systems already running on ARM, and with major players like Apple apparently committed to building their own integrated, ARM-based platforms, even the Atom’s x86 compatibility feels like a bit of a disadvantage in that market. Whether Intel will make substantial inroads into the smart phone world with this generation of Atom technology remains a wide-open question at this point.

Still, the Atom has come a long way in a few short years, and Intel’s roadmap indicates a Moorestown successor, Medfeld, is already planned. Intel has a great many natural advantages on its side, including the world’s best chip manufacturing operation, which has been ramping the production of 32-nm processors for some time now. With Moorestown, the Austin team has already picked much of the low-hanging fruit for power and size optimizations; they’re unlikely to reduce idle power another 50X in the next generation. But they could well begin setting new standards for power use and performance ahead of the rest of the market going forward. Would it be much of a surprise if they did?

What’s more, as a PC guy, I just happen to think that seeing an x86 platform scaled down to the size of a smart phone is incredibly cool. Even if Moorestown doesn’t carve out a big portion of the phone market and the tablets based on it flop, the possibilities for PCs squeezing into new form factors are practically endless. Funny things happen when you make that possible. In the end, Intel may end up with another surprise success on its hands, one that comes in a form it didn’t anticipate.

Comments closed
    • green
    • 10 years ago

    personally, while the whole soc thing is nice and compact there’s one thing that bugs me
    initially everything was gsm. we then had 3g. in a few years, 4th gen
    now if eveything on my phone works fine and all i need is in a ‘4g’ unit, why can’t i just upgrade it somehow?
    or if i find i need more storage on my phone, why can’t i just upgrade the module somehow?
    this is really coming from a pc background and all, but if 90% of the components in my phone are fine, why can’t i just upgrade the bits that aren’t?
    i just figure it’d be nice if you could have some kind of upgradable ‘comms’ module that when new standards (802.11n, “4g”, bt3, wusb, etc) come out you can just pull out the old one for a new one and be off and running.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 10 years ago

      It’s planned obsolescence. If there were upgradable modules the other chip makers wouldn’t get to sell new stuff, the cell phone manufacturers wouldn’t get to sell new stuff, the carriers wouldn’t get to hook you on a new contract…

      • NeelyCam
      • 10 years ago

      From product planning, compatibility etc. point of view, it’s probably much cheaper to rebuild a whole new phone than to build a phone with replaceable parts for future feature expansion.

      Having sockets for removable parts alone costs more than soldering on the actual parts… not to mention the damn sockets are just too damn thick – your phone wouldn’t fit in your pocket as well as one from the competitor.

    • obarthelemy
    • 10 years ago

    Is there any reason to actually use these things ? They run the same “weird” OSes as ARM, are in the same ballpark for power, cost more money and power… They might have made sense as a netbook/nettop platform, but won’t run Windows…

    Intel does have money and resources, but this is not “it” yet. Maybe the next rev will be worth it, but this one has me unmoved. And, given their track record with graphics chips, slightly doubtful.

    • ShadowTiger
    • 10 years ago

    I’m surprised nobody brought up the most important reason why Intel can’t compete in the ARM market…

    Intel chips are expensive. An intel Atom SOC costs upwards of $15, probably in the 20s. An ARM based chip costs less than $10. So even if Intel can match performance, you are paying more than double just for x86 compatibility.

    I don’t really expect to see this widely adopted as companies have their margins to think of, as the $10 difference is basically a 10% margin cut.

      • HurgyMcGurgyGurg
      • 10 years ago

      Or they can charge ten dollars more?

      I don’t know any consumer who would look at a $300 device and a $310 device and pick the $300 if it is less featured.

      • NeelyCam
      • 10 years ago

      Higher performance tends to command a higher premium.

    • BeowulfSchaeffer
    • 10 years ago
      • blastdoor
      • 10 years ago

      Thanks — nice to see a little bit of a reality check.

      I’m still smirking at Intel’s claim that *they* aren’t supporting WinMo. Since when do hardware companies support software? I suspect what’s really going on is that Microsoft isn’t supporting Atom.

        • BeowulfSchaeffer
        • 10 years ago

        My favorite part of the Arstechnica blurb was the following:

        *[

          • BabelHuber
          • 10 years ago

          True. But you also can see this the other way around:

          If the system really can put its various parts into sleep monde most of the time, it can probably do everything my Nokia X6 does by using comparable power.

          OTOH it would give me the possibility of using a full-fleged x86 chip, albeit at the cost of high power usage.

          Not too bad, I think.

          Also don’t forget that the egineers at Intel are not sleeping. The next platform will arrive in a few years, and it will be much better.

          All those ARM guys like Apple, TI, Marvel and whatnot should treat Morestown as a real threat – the competition in this market gets tougher.

            • blastdoor
            • 10 years ago

            /[

            • BabelHuber
            • 10 years ago

            Except that Intel has shown multiple times that they are able to drastically enhance their chips.

            It’s not easy for AMD to keep up with Intel’s pace. And it won’t be easy for the ARM-guys, too.

            I don’t say they can’t keep up with Intel, it merely won’t be easy.

          • MadManOriginal
          • 10 years ago

          I thought that part of the blurb was kind of funny. What’s your take on it?

          What I see is a little bit of bias against Moorestown. They are saying that it does smartphone things equally as fast and with similar power draw to existing smartphones, but can also do things other smartphones can’t faster than existing smartphones with higher power draw. This is a draw-win situation and yet it’s painted as a draw-lose or even lose-lose.

            • NeelyCam
            • 10 years ago

            I would agree – I am sensing a slight bias… but no more than on Anandtech’s article.

            I think it’s fine to have biased articles on the interwibble – they fuel flamewars, so everyone would be warm and cozy.

            • jdaven
            • 10 years ago

            You guys talk about Moorestown as if you were building a computer:

            “I’ll just pop this Intel CPU into my phone as a nice upgrade so I can have smartphone power savings but x86 desktop like performance.”

            Being able to say its nice to have smartphone performance and x86 performance together is not the same as being able to buy it. If no smartphone companies adopt the chip, Intel can spin out as many ppt slides as they want but no one will have the chip. Unless Intel makes its own smartphone.

            This is what I see happening. Very few OEMs will put Moorestown into their products if any at all. I know its just one example but LG already canceled their Moorestown smartphone. More might follow the same route. Time will tell.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 10 years ago

            Have you seen the LG GW990 Moorestown phone? 😀 It’s pretty silly looking really and I would not be surprised if the reason it was cancelled did not have to do with Moorestown directly but rather the bad press it got for the form factor.

            • NeelyCam
            • 10 years ago

            For once, I agree with you… mostly. Although Moorestown has better performance and largely the same battery life, it’s not substantially superior enough to break the ARM dominance. These things take time. Moorestown could yield a strong iPad competitor, although the first generation of these would be hampered by nascent software.

            Medfield, though, it going to be magic. If some lucky vendor decided to go with Moorestown the first time around (despite the hassle), they would have time to figure out the software kinks, and would be in a prime position to benefit from a superior platform once Medfield arrives. Who’s up for it? LG passed, Nokia won’t jump in until Medfield, Apple has its own solution. Motorola? Sony Ericsson? Dell? Acer?

            • jdaven
            • 10 years ago

            What about Intel itself? It is already making OSes why not the hardware too.

            • NeelyCam
            • 10 years ago

            They are doing the MeeGo thingy with Nokia, but I wouldn’t say GUI design is one of Intel’s core competencies…

            Intel developing an OS/GUI would be like saying Apple designing a CPU…

    • Trymor
    • 10 years ago

    Nice dig at Apple…

    Try

    l[

    • YeuEmMaiMai
    • 10 years ago

    LG has one of these coming out as well a 1Ghz version called the GW900

    Edit NVM LG Killed it

    • fredsnotdead
    • 10 years ago

    Perhaps the surprise success will be in BD players, DVRs, home/media servers — make the “vampire power” use very low on these consumer electronics. I’d like to see the low power optimizations make their way up to the notebook and desktop x86 silicon. I’d also like to see what hp can do with these new Atoms and their newly acquired Palm resources.

    • flip-mode
    • 10 years ago

    I just hope x86 fails to grab hold in smart phones. Intel has enough of a strangle hold on enough people with x86. I’d rather see other ISAs flourish and maybe breech the PC domain.

      • StandardGeek
      • 10 years ago

      I totally agree.

      There is no real advantages to the x86 ISA besides the backward compatibility and the ability to run MS Windows.

    • odizzido
    • 10 years ago

    I would be pretty excited to see this make its way into a very light and small netbook.

    • d0g_p00p
    • 10 years ago

    Apple haters already bitching about this Intel chip. Funny how they have to discredit and downplay anything that is not Apple.

    This chip is a win all around and the future revs will be ever better. Just like djgandy said and something I have been saying for years. I would like my cellphone to act just like a computer with choices of OS and software. Not be locked down like all current cell phones. This is a step in that direction.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 10 years ago

      Do you mean ‘Apple zealots’ in your first sentence? Otherwise it doesn’t go with the rest of your post.

      • adisor19
      • 10 years ago

      Umm, sorry how will this help your cell phone to not be locked down ?!
      Intel holds the licences for x86 as well as the ip so no one out there can make x86 chips without their approval. ARM on the other hand doesn’t even fab their own chips. They just licence out the designs so that everyone is free to combine their cores and customize it the way they want. Intel will never allow this.

      So tell me again, how is this supposed to help make your cellphone be less locked down ?

      Adi

        • MadManOriginal
        • 10 years ago

        I can’t wait to see how your story changes if Apple adopts Intel chips in their phones some time in the future.

          • adisor19
          • 10 years ago

          Apple pretty much bet their farm on ARM and Imagination Technologies so i don’t see them turn around any time soon. Also, the Apple A4 chip in the iPad is more or less a Cortex A8 derivative that has been highly optimized and tweaked for : Power savings and high clock.

          In other words, Apple is not looking for the best performance out there but rather for the best battery life. They could have easily chose the Tegra 2 or another similar Cortex A9 based design but they went for something more power efficient but less powerful.

          The Atom makes no sense for them in its current form or in the future.

          Adi

            • grantmeaname
            • 10 years ago

            Apple bet like a quarter’s profits on PA Semi, not the farm.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 10 years ago

            I said ‘if’…also ‘in the future’ is a long time 😉 I wasn’t thinking it’s likely or possible any time soon at all, product planning timeframes alone dictate that. Apple was heavily vested in PPC but switched to Intel CPUs so it’s clear that they will change if its beneficial. Who’s to say what will be ‘best’ in 5 years?

            • NeelyCam
            • 10 years ago

            l[

            • eitje
            • 10 years ago

            q[

            • blastdoor
            • 10 years ago

            And I bet it would be much easier to do the switch to Intel with the iPhone than with the Mac. Apple has so much more control over how apps are developed and distributed for the iPhone. I bet that a switch to Intel could be fairly transparent to the user.

            But still, while Apple is capable of making such a switch, I see no reason yet for them to do so. Intel made different design tradeoffs with the Atom than Apple and others have made with ARM SOCs for smartphones, but that doesn’t mean that Apple et al could not have chosen to make the same tradeoffs.

            Now, if Intel eventually starts to use their most modern fabs to make Atoms, that could change. But so long as Atom is on the same process generation as ARM, I doubt there will be any real reason to choose Intel’s architecture. Stated differently, Intel doesn’t have an architectural advantage — they have a manufacturing advantage, but they aren’t using that advantage for this product (yet).

    • kenclopz
    • 10 years ago

    Only one question matters: Can it play games?

      • wira020
      • 10 years ago

      Yes it can, read the tomshardware article… they will support opengl2.0 and directx9L… and some other stuff…

      • Ryszard
      • 10 years ago

      As wira020 says, our 535 core that powers GMA600 supports DX9 under Windows XP, Vista and 7, and OpenGL 2.0 under those plus Linux. So it supports some of the APIs you’d be looking to use with games. It doesn’t support DX10 or OpenGL 3 sadly, although we do have cores that do.

      Performance is really strong for the area and power consumption, especially at the clocks Intel will employ.

    • Bensam123
    • 10 years ago

    Not to downplay anything, but will this make it’s way into computers much in the same way the original Atom did or is this exclusively limited to phones and other small PDA like devices?

    If so is there a real reason for it to be on here? There are other notable chips for current phones/smart phones, but cellphone technology isn’t traditionally covered here.

    I know tablets were mentioned, but is that as far as this gets?

      • JumpingJack
      • 10 years ago

      Intel’s roadmaps were clear when they first disclosed Atom at their IDF. Atom would grow up in different phases. The first round of Atom was targeted for Netbooks/Nettops, it was never intended for smart phones, the power was just too high.

      The next revision, Menlow, was targeted to go into MIDS (mobile internet devices), larger than a smart phone, not quite a tablet… these never took off and Menlow really only found homes in a small set of applications.

      The next phase, Moorestown, is where Intel intended to push Atom into smart phone space.

      The progression through these steps were contingent upon the power reduction during each step. Diamondville (the first atom) had too high power to do anything other than Netbooks/nettops, Menlow reduced that significantly, and Mooretown apparently, based on the specs anyway, seems to have achieved the smart phone power goals.

      It is covered here because it is interesting to see x86 make it into these power envelops.

      So to answer you original question — it already has. Diamondville is the first rev, big brother, of Moorestown and pretty much is what is in Nettops.

      • adisor19
      • 10 years ago

      No PCI bus and no BIOS means windows can’t boot it. So no, it won’t make its way in regular computers unless you’re interested of running some sort of Linux distro on it..

      Adi

    • danazar
    • 10 years ago

    I think this illustrates the importance of being in charge of software.

    Intel has thrived for so long because the world revolved around a single purpose. “Personal computing” was one thing, desktops, and they built chips for that which performed well. Then it branched out into a second purpose, “Laptops” which they were able to gradually focus on as well, because it wasn’t so divergent from the first that the software was different.

    But now… The devices that these kind of things are designed for need radically different software to function well. That’s why the iPhone and iPad are so successful in the first place; it’s the software. The OS is simple and designed to make good use of the hardware. It’s a whole different space, and in order to take advantage you’ve gotta write new software from the ground up.

    Intel doesn’t want to get involved in software. They’ve tweaked Moblin for this thing but they don’t want to create or push a brand that’ll make people buy it. They want to leave it up to others to develop the software, and by the time that happens, it’ll be too late. They’re already years behind Apple here, and everyone else is going to keep using ARM to keep up with Apple for now. Unless this thing develops a spontaneous ability to do something ARM can’t, by the time anything’s really ready, nobody’s going to have a motive to use this at all.

      • NeelyCam
      • 10 years ago

      Intel is not in software business; Nokias, LGs and SonyEricssons of the world are the ones responsible for developing the user interface.

      It is in Intel’s interest to help them get this done, though, to break the iPhone dominance.

        • danazar
        • 10 years ago

        But those companies can all do that with the same hardware the iPhone is using. They can do it with ARM. They don’t need Intel.

          • NeelyCam
          • 10 years ago

          They are all being hammered by Apple because of Apple’s superior GUI. They need something to be able to compete. They can either try to use the same hardware (ARM) and a different GUI (Android) where they’ll be limited by hardware capabilities, or they can try a different hardware (Moorestown).

          Competing with Apple on GUI is *[

            • poulpy
            • 10 years ago

            q[

            • MadManOriginal
            • 10 years ago

            You didn’t read carefully enough and aren’t understanding what he said within the context of the whole post. He didn’t say ‘limited hardware capabilities’ he said ‘limited BY hardware capabilities’ and that is within the context of competing with Apple. What this means is if everyone has similar baseline hardware capabilities with ARM but one company (Apple) is better at exploiting the hardware then it’s hard to compete. On the other hand if a company decides to go with different hardware that has different or additional capabilities relatively speaking, not that ARM is ‘bad’ in an absolute sense, then they may have a better chance at competing. To put it another way, it’s harder to compete when everyone is starting from roughly the same baseline but easier to compete when there are different options to build upon.

            • poulpy
            • 10 years ago

            I might have parsed the post too quickly indeed!

            Although I do not fully adhere to this idea then, because:

            – this probably puts too much emphasis on the GUI while Windows users have been using inferior GUI & OS for decades without much in the way of near total control of the personal computer market.

            – this would require Moorestown to bring serious game changing features against modern dual core ARM + GPU, which I don’t think it does.

            – this also implies Apple is a) using the latest/greatest ARM technologies and b) maxing them out which I don’t think is true. Case in point would be Microsoft who could have caused serious trouble with their more powerful Tegra powered Zune but -yet again- only weakly pushed for it with a non worldwide release, poor marketing and not aggressive enough pricing..

            – ARM is an ecosystem in itself, because they’re selling IPs you find numerous variations of hardware based on ARM DNA but with different performance/features.

            Also one point you will always have to counter Apple products is that they design really good user experience but at the cost of freedom.
            I.e. they limit the number of variables, close down on “unwanted” capabilities, remove content they do not want/like, etc..

            Clearly if you need to take market share away from iPods/iPhones you have to wake up early and offer some real incentive on hardware, software and prices. The latest Android devices do show you can make some serious competitors with similar-ish CPU/GPU IMO.
            That said I’m clearly not against choice so the more the better!

    • JumpingJack
    • 10 years ago

    Reply fail.

    • Voldenuit
    • 10 years ago

    5 chips to run a smartphone? Failsauce.

      • blubje
      • 10 years ago

      it’s still on one IC though, no?

        • Voldenuit
        • 10 years ago

        No, these are 5 separate chips. 2 of them (the intel cpu and i/o hub) are on a single package, but you still need a Wifi + 3G chip, a power management chip and RAM for a grand total of 5. Modern SoCs in smartphones have everything on one chip, even DRAM.

        • Hattig
        • 10 years ago

        Nope. It doesn’t even have integrated RAM, like ARM based SoCs. Five separate chips is not ideal, although I’m sure that manufacturers will deal with them.

        The main issue is the cost. An integrated ARM SoC that provides the functionality of three of the above separate chips costs under $20. What will Intel be charging?

          • NeelyCam
          • 10 years ago

          Performance tends to command a premium.
          You’re right, though – this is an integration premium. Might not make it to cell phones, really – table would be a better place for these.

          Still have to wait for another year or so for Medlow to have one in a cell phone, methinks.

        • adisor19
        • 10 years ago

        No, it’s not. Currently with Intel’s “solution” there are at least 3 discrete chips.

        Adi

      • Meadows
      • 10 years ago

      I hope they put them in a blender by the time they start making them on 32 nm.

    • NeelyCam
    • 10 years ago

    Should I say “I told you so”?

      • djgandy
      • 10 years ago

      replyfail..

    • JumpingJack
    • 10 years ago

    “These are Intel-supplied numbers, so you can make of them what you will, but they certainly sound promising. ”

    I laughed at this a little bit, the last time I read something like this was here:

    §[<https://techreport.com/articles.x/9538/4<]§ "Of course, you'll have to make what you will of these numbers, given the conditions in which we obtained them." We know what happened then....

      • NeelyCam
      • 10 years ago

      Yes. People are quick to rule out Intel’s smartphone aspirations as idiotic because of the “horribly inefficient” x86 architecture.

      This is only the first step. The next step will seriously hurt ARM, and the one after that will be a death blow.

        • djgandy
        • 10 years ago

        This is a mixed 45nm+65nm set of chips too. Intel using a tick-tock approach to phase changes in on working processes. When all of that goes to 32nm and a single package you’d expect another hefty drop in power.

        The power consumption is pretty impressive, especially considering how much more powerful it is than anything on the market today.

        I’d expect medfield to be another decent leap for Intel. I hope it is, I’ve been waiting for the day I can treat my mobile devices in a similar way to a normal computer.

        • adisor19
        • 10 years ago

        LOL death blow ?! hahahah

        Cortex A9 designs are already at the same performance level as the regular Atom CPUs and they will only get better once they get more optimized by whoever wants. Intel on the other hand hasn’t even managed to integrate all the pieces on the puzzle on the same SoC and chances are they never will.

        I mean, the whole advantage of an ARM CPU is that every manufacturer can licence the core and combine it with whatever other IP they want into 1 chip (SoC) and tailor it to their own specific smart phone needs. With Intel, you can’t do that. You can’t customize it how you want it. It’s what Intel give you and that’s it.

        This is not going to be a hit.. mark my words.

        Adi

          • NeelyCam
          • 10 years ago

          Moorestown will not be a huge hit.

          Medfield will be. Mark my words.

            • Hattig
            • 10 years ago

            Certainly. But that’s a year away. ARM will be available on 28nm devices by then. GlobalFoundries and TSMC will have the facilities. Intel could lose that advantage…

            • Jigar
            • 10 years ago

            I hope you know you are talking about Intel, they might as well buy ARM.
            Like they say, if you can’t beat them eat them. LOL

            • blastdoor
            • 10 years ago

            That’s the only real advantage Intel has.

            • NeelyCam
            • 10 years ago

            Yeah, we’ll see if 28nm will be available from GF by then. I’d say the chance that TSMC will get 28nm working in that time frame is next to nothing.

            Moreover, we’ll see if Cortex on 28nm will have that low leakage that everybody loves so much. 32nm/28nm is not easy; those transistors tend to leak like mad.

        • StandardGeek
        • 10 years ago

        The x86 ISA is much more complicated than ARM or any other RISC based ISAs. There is no way to overcome that. That means that a x86 CPU will always need a lot more transistors to decode etc. than any ARM CPU, while giving no real advantage (in regards to the ISA — the tools and general market may be a different ting).

        Intel might have some advantages in manufacturing, but I believe that any RISC based architecture will be better suited for smartphones etc. If Intel chose to make their own version of ARM (or MIPS or any other RISC architecture), they would probably be quite competitive, due to their great manufacturing tech.

        I don’t understand why Intel cling on to the x86 ISA. It’s not like the smartphones and MIDs should run full versions of MS Windows.

    • adisor19
    • 10 years ago

    Too little too late. I really don’t see this competing with the dual core Cortex A9 desings that will debut later this year. There’s just no way that an In order dual issue design can approach a dual core out of order ARM SoC no matter how fast Intel manages to clock it at.

    Intel should have focused initially on designing Atom for smartphones and not for MIDs. Time will tell i guess, but i already see the writing on the wall..

    Adi

      • NeelyCam
      • 10 years ago

      I see the writing on the wall, too, and it’s different from what you think.

      Moorestown won’t be the ARM killer, but Medlow is a different story. Intel just have such a huge advantage due to their process prowess; fabless companies just can’t compete.

        • adisor19
        • 10 years ago

        I know they have 1 process shrink advantage over AMD’s fabs but that’s it. The problem still remains that nobody can licence the x86 core and combine it with their on specific DSPs and make a custom SoC out of it. Intel doesn’t allow that. While the Atom performance might challenge Cortex A9 and future ARM cores, it will still be hampered by the Intel way of doing things.

        Adi

          • MadManOriginal
          • 10 years ago

          Rereading this article and others I think the key is that Intel is providing a standard platform that can be defined by software, rather than hardware IP that can be customized to run custom software well. If this allows smaller companies that mainly deal in software and not nitty-gritty hardware design to create products that seems like a good thing.

      • Da_Boss
      • 10 years ago

      Agreed. This seems like a feeble push by Intel to try and capture the goldmine that is Smartphones, Smatbooks, and MIDs. But they responded too late, and now have no choice but to walk into a minefield completely dominated by ARM SoCs and software.

      The problem is the lack of x86 software in the mobile space. Why would Apple, Google or anyone else for that matter rewrite OSs and other software to x86 when ARM seems to be working just fine?

        • MadManOriginal
        • 10 years ago

        ‘Too late’ is kind of a silly statement to make here. Smartphones as we currently think of them in the consumer arena have been out for what, 5 years or less? Go back to the start of any trend in technology, especially semiconductor technology, and compare the competing companies and products to what is available 10-20-30 years later. Mobile is the huge growth area going forward and Intel would be foolish to give up on it this early, this is the beginning not the end and to declare a winner at this point simply does not make sense.

          • Voldenuit
          • 10 years ago

          Symbian users have been using smartphones since 2000, and there are examples of the genre before then.

          I never understood why my professor was so excited over her new iPhone when my N80 (which was 3 years old at the time) did everything it did (yes, I had apps, some of them in java) and had video call and MMS capabilities to boot.

          If by ‘smartphone’ you mean locked down marketplaces and ecosystems, then yes, Apple was a “pioneer”.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 10 years ago

            Yes, I didn’t spend much time fleshing out the nuances so I just wrote ‘as we currently think of them in the consumer arena.’ Aside from the ecosystem you noted it also means consumer awareness – you illustrated this in your own post – and purchasing. I’m not a moron, I know smartphones or things close enough to them have been out for longer, Blackberries were out before the iPhone too. The corporate or ‘tinkerer’ smartphones might be analogous to early IBM PCs and homebrew computers. Today, IBM is out of the PC business and full-on computer ‘kits’ have been fully commoditized at best.

            But nitpicking on that is missing the forest for the trees when the point I was making is that declaring a winner in such a fast-moving and still developing market is foolish. Battles have been won and lost but the war is far from over.

            • NeelyCam
            • 10 years ago

            Yeah, except those “smartphones” weren’t that smart, and most certainly not very user friendly.

            Compared to iPhone etc., they don’t qualify as “smartphones”. Anyone who claims they do, either had one, or worked for Nokia.

        • djgandy
        • 10 years ago

        I heard some guy just invented an OS called Linux….

        Android was shown running on Moorestown, so that’s that one gone. That leaves Apple. Well why would apple do anything for anyone, except pose harsh conditions on the way they do business?

          • Corrado
          • 10 years ago

          But why run Android on x86? It just doesn’t seem like theres any compelling reason. Everything runs fine on ARM chips, and handing even more of the computing market to Intel is NOT a good idea. There are already PLENTY of examples of how Intel acts when there is no competition.

            • NeelyCam
            • 10 years ago

            No competition? True, but it’s because ARM has a monopoly. Dear sir: it’s Intel that’s bringing the competition back into this market.

            • Hattig
            • 10 years ago

            Lol, ARM has a monopoly?

            They’re licensing their core designs for pennies to third party manufacturers to use. There are dozens of different companies producing competing ARM based SoCs that are suitable for smartphones. This provides a massive amount of competition and product differentiation.

            • NeelyCam
            • 10 years ago

            How much of the smart phone CPU architecture market is ARM’s?
            Yeah – a monopoly. Doesn’t matter who builds the chip – what matters is how much ARM can charge for the license, and without competition, there is no limit on that.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 10 years ago

            Dunno, I’d say it’s when Intel did have competition (A64) that they seemed to do its worst in terms of anti-competitive practices. What exactly were you talking about?

            • Corrado
            • 10 years ago

            Do you remember during the Pentium 2 and 3 days when CPUs were $700-800? And they made no real effort to release the pentium 4 until the Athlon came out and started competing. They would just release something with another half on the multiplier. They didn’t release the Coppermines for competitive purposes, only because they were cheaper to manufacture. With no competition, Intel is a bully. Then when they started getting beat up on performance wise, they started resorting to underhanded business tactics to keep AMD down. Then when their chipset business was ‘threatened’ by nVidia, they basically told them ‘tough shit’ and played semantics games to prevent them from making new ones.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 10 years ago

            Of course I remember when CPUs were expensive, I didn’t buy the expensive ones though, Celeron PIIs and PIIIs were pretty good when overclocked 😉 and there are still CPUs that are just as expensive as back then, they just have a much smaller advantage now. (A PII450 was a huge 50% faster than a PII300.) That doesn’t make Intel ‘bad’ I don’t think unless one is just biased to think that way. What were the competitor’s prices? What was the price/performance ratio? AMD charged a lot, relative to Intel, when they had the lead with the A64 so going by that measure AMD is bad too. Using NV as an example of Intel not ‘playing nice’ when it comes to chipsets is a pretty bad argument if you actually want to go there. If Intel was as ‘evil’ as you say when they have an advantage why did they create a price war all through the C2D era?

            They’re all just businesses trying to get a leg up and make money. Amoral doesn’t automatically mean immoral, the only really bad things Intel did was coerce companies to not buy A64s and that was when Intel did not have the lead.

            • Corrado
            • 10 years ago

            They created the price war in the C2D era because AMD’s chips were still ‘good enough’. They also believed that if they could lower AMD’s average selling price enough, they could bleed them into bankruptcy.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 10 years ago

            You avoided a number of points I made but ok, those are the ones where your Intel hate clearly fails 😉 AMD chips were ‘good enough’ in the sense that many people don’t fully utilize their CPU but they were not actually competitive until Phenom II which was almost 3 years.

            I’ve also never seen anyone at Intel state ‘We lowered prices to hurt the competition,’ that’s always been a presumption people make and while it sounds good and evil empire-y it requires one to start from an anti-Intel viewpoint. Short of price-dumping businesses set prices to maximize their own profits not to spite other companies, clearly Intel was making boatloads of money so maybe it was just superior execution on their part. At most it was a side effect of Intel maximizing their profits. In any case, when Intel had the lead for those years the customer benefited so why complain?

            Anyway it’s funny that people start from a bias and make their conclusion that ‘Intel doing well in X market (smartphones) would be bad.’ It’s working backwards and is emotionally driven rather than logically driven. Why is ARM dominating the market with little competition so great to people? AMD fanbois/Intel haters say they support AMD because it fosters competition, but when Intel is the one coming in from behind and providing the competition it’s bad…this inconsistent outlook is not justifiable other than ‘I h8 Intel’

            • NeelyCam
            • 10 years ago

            Your post is full of logic… it’s all wasted. These ARM/AMD/Apple/NVidia fanboi types ignore logic and blindly embrace emotion, ‘gut-feel’ and viewpoints from authority (e.g., Steve Jobs).

            In a way, they sound like republicans.

            • poulpy
            • 10 years ago

            Err last time I checked I had yourself in my Intel Fanboi list, please let me know if I’m out of date or something.

            • NeelyCam
            • 10 years ago

            I’m not a fanboy – my viewpoint is not based on emotion. I call them as I see them, and I change my mind if the situation calls for it.

            • NeelyCam
            • 10 years ago

            This is a different situation. Those who have the monopoly have an incentive to try to keep it, pushing the legal (and moral) limits to make this happen – this is natural competition, courtesy of “free market”.

            In this case, it’s ARM that has the monopoly, while Intel is the underdog. ARM has the incentive to push the legal&moral limits to keep its market share. If ARM succeeds, prices keep high.

            Make no mistake – when it comes to the smart phone market, Intel is your best friend. Competition from Intel is what brings the smart phone prices down.

            • Corrado
            • 10 years ago

            Prices won’t come down. Don’t be dumb. They’ll stay the same and the manufacturers and retailers will make more profit.

            • NeelyCam
            • 10 years ago

            You’re saying competition doesn’t bring prices down..? And you’re calling me dumb..?

            Reality check, please!

            • Meadows
            • 10 years ago

            You just described price fixing, which is illegal to do.

      • sweatshopking
      • 10 years ago

      Except it offers almost 2x the performance of a dual core A9. it simply is faster. I love arm, and dont know if this makes any sense at all, but the fact is, that it is definitely faster than ARM’s current offerings.

        • Hattig
        • 10 years ago

        It’s highly unlikely that this Atom provides 2x the performance of a dual-core A9 (unless you are comparing the SpecInt figures, which are more a test of Intel’s compiler than the CPUs themselves).

        One of the ported OSes, Android, will shortly be making use of the VM (as in language VM for Dalvik) acceleration features in the Cortex A series. Will this Intel chip provide these features?

        Intel are getting there. The 32nm version next year will get even closer. ARM isn’t sitting still however. Let’s see what this year’s ARM SoCs provide first, apart from backwards compatibility and large software libraries.

          • NeelyCam
          • 10 years ago

          Weren’t you the one who said it’s unlikely that Conroe canhave more performance than A64?

        • adisor19
        • 10 years ago

        Care to show proof from some benchmarks ? Also, make sure you include power consumption in there too.. Oh wait, Intel hasn’t disclosed power consumption for the new chip when it’s actually doing some serious work.. i think that’s rather suspicious, don’t you ?

        Adi

    • mesyn191
    • 10 years ago

    Nice work by Intel, and all on 45 and 65nm process tech too. Be kinda cool if they made a quad or dual core desktop or laptop based on Linscroft. It’d make for a cheap and small silent PC that would be good enough for most office and web stuff.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 10 years ago

    Tablets that aren’t draconicly locked down…mmm..

    • blastdoor
    • 10 years ago

    So… for things that ARM already does well (video, audio, web browsing), Moorestown appears to use approximately the same amount of power. That’s certainly better than using more power. But is it really a reason for anyone to use it instead of ARM?

    Seems to me the real question is, what’s the power usage when it’s doing things that ARM chips on the market cannot do well? And is the increased functionality worth the extra power drain?

      • NeelyCam
      • 10 years ago

      I’d say it would be nice to have the /[

        • blastdoor
        • 10 years ago

        That’s all certainly true.

        The thing that strikes me is that there’s nothing preventing anyone from designing an ARM CPU that also has the option of drawing more power in order to attain greater performance (and that costs more — I’m presuming that Atom costs more than ARM, but maybe I’m wrong). Yet people have not chosen to do that. Clearly that choice means that there is a segment of the market that is not being served and now Intel has an opportunity to serve that segment.

        So the question is — how big is that market segment? If Intel demonstrates that this segment is larger than others imagined, then we may very well see ARM CPUs coming out that are more expensive and give you the option to burn more power for greater performance.

        My guess, however, is that at least in the smartphone market there will not be a very big demand for the bundle of features that the Atom provides in terms of cost, battery life, and performance. The end-user experience for someone using a 1 GHz ARM on a smartphone may not be very different from the end-user experience of someone using an Atom. Intel’s decision to “not support” WinMo is an implicit admission that they agree with me.

        The tablet and netbook markets, on the other hand, may be a different story.

          • NeelyCam
          • 10 years ago

          You might be right; maybe the current generation smart phones is readily capable of providing the kind of power users want/need right now, and Moorestown (or Medlow) is a product without a market.

          I was thinking more on the lines of what happened with the original iPhone. I know some claim that there were smart phones before iPhone (Blackberry, Nokia, even Palm), but iPhone really raised the bar on what “smart phone” means, both from performance and usability point of view.

          When iPhone first came out, people were quick to point out that the whole idea is stupid, and that a phone is supposed to be a phone first – iPhone was too big and bulky, had crappy battery life and call reception. Well, in the end it turned out that none of that really mattered.

          I also know that people really liked the snappiness of 3GS. If performance didn’t matter, 3GS wouldn’t have sold that well, especially since 3G was being sold $100 cheaper. But… 3GS took over the market. Performance and capabilities is what market wanted.

          What I’m saying is that it’s hard to predict what users will want until the capability is available. I know I’m clamoring for more performance on my “fake” smart phone (some iphone clone from Samsung), and on my Atom netbook.

          (WaltC school of thought)

            • blastdoor
            • 10 years ago

            All good points!

      • JumpingJack
      • 10 years ago

      It’s hard to tell how Intel will do with this platform, they are headed into a battle of which they have never seen…. given that, Moorestown has quite a bit more than what you are describing…

      Encoding 720p at 30 FPS is not something an ARM based product can do today, neither can it handle 1080P… and multitasking is just not good, do more than two things and it starts to have noticable hiccups.

      This will change with Cortex-9 probably, but for now… Intel has demonstrated several features that ARM just cannot muster.
      Examples: §[<http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/intel-atom-moorestown-smartphone,2624-8.html<]§

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