Intel has unveiled a few details about it’s plans for the future of the Intel Atom line. As we already knew, the company’s next generation Atom chips, code name Pine Trail, will use a system-on-a-chip design, which means that you won’t have separate chips for the CPU and GPU. Instead they’ll hang out on the same chip.
The company also plans to use new manufacturing processes to produce 32nm, then 22nm, then 15nm chips. But while the goal with Intel’s more powerful processors is to use these new processes to increase performance, the goal with the Atom line is to reduce power leakage and improve battery life.
In other words, the future of the Atom line isn’t necessarily higher clock speeds, but more efficient processors. If you buy an Intel Atom netbook 2 years from now, you might expect a slight performance boost over one you pick up today. But don’t expect miracles.
Of course, Intel is taking a two-pronged approach toward low cost ultraportables. It looks like the Atom processor line is going to compete with low power ARM processors in the low end of the market and could keep on keeping on in netbooks with 10 inch or smaller displays that may often be bundled with 3G wireless plans and sold through telecoms.
Intel is also pushing its CULV (Consumer Ultra Low Voltage) line of processors which offer better performance than an Atom chip at a higher price. But they’re still a lot cheaper than the chips you’ll find in bleeding edge laptops, and the Asus UL30A, which has a dual core Intel CULV processor can run for nearly 10 hours on a charge, which shows that Atom ain’t the only game in town when it comes to efficient processors for portable laptops.