Intel’s Atom processors made their debut back in the days when small, cheap netbooks were a thing. Neither had a great reputation, and these days you won’t find many PC makers selling anything called a netbook… and Intel doesn’t sell any chips under the Atom brand anymore.

But the company does continue to produce new low-power chips based on Atom architecture. These chips are low-power, low-cost alternatives to the company’s Core series processors. And in recent years we’ve seen plenty of Atom-based Celeron and Pentium-branded chips used in cheap laptops and mini-desktop computers, servers, and other applications where price and power consumption are more important than bleeding edge performance.

Now Intel is getting ready to launch its next-gen Atom architecture, code-named “Tremont.” And while while Tremont chips still aren’t going to be competitive with the latest 10th-gen Core “Comet Lake” or “Ice Lake” processors, they should offer some significant improvements over their predecessors.

As expected, Intel laid out some details for its upcoming Tremont architecture at the Linley Fall Processor Conference.

The first Tremont chips are coming by the end of 2019. They’re based on Intel’s new 10+ nm  design, and Intel is promising a 30-percent boost in performance compared to its 2017-era Atom chips based on “Goldmont+” architecture.

In fact, Intel says when using small amounts of power, single-threaded performance of a Tremont CPU core will be pretty close to what you’d see from a “Sunny Cove” CPU core like the ones found in the company’s 10th-gen Core Ice Lake chips — although Sunny Cove performs much when power constraints are lifted.

Wondering about graphics performance? You might have to keep wondering for a little while.

The first chip to feature Tremont CPU cores will be Intel’s upcoming “Lakefield” processor, which is actually a hybrid chip that will combine:

  • 1 x Sunny Cove CPU core (high performance)
  • 4 x Tremont CPU cores (energy efficient)
  • Intel Gen11 graphics (similar to Ice Lake)

It’s unclear if this means all Tremont chips will feature Gen11 graphics or just hybrid chips like Lakefield.

Update: It’s just Lakefield.

Want a deeper dive into Tremont architecture? You can check out the complete slide deck Intel’s Stephen Robinson used at the conference, or check out Anandtech’s in-depth article covering today’s announcement.

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  1. Intel needs to drop the “Atom” completely. I’ve had an Atom device and will never buy another again. It’s a tainted brand.

    1. You have absolutely no clue about what you say. I’m using Atom-based CPUs exclusively from about 2008 and while the first few series of Atom CPUs had limitations, those modern ones (out-of-order architecture, since 2013) are sufficient for almost any normal work you can do on computer. I’m writing this on an almost 4 year old Braswell notebook (Bay Trail -> Braswell -> Apollo Lake -> Gemini Lake -> something Tremont based in the future) and the browser (Firefox 71 beta) runs absolutelly well on any website (including those JavaScript heavy), I can even play HD videos coded in AV1 without any framedrops and only computed on CPU cores. Office apps run great, multimedia run great and no fan noise and no need to clean the fan from dust because it’s passively cooled. I’m occasionally using the notebook to rip old analog videotapes to PAL resolution h.264 files in real time and it works too. I know one guy who is still using the previous generation Bay Trail in his music studio and the current Gemini Lake line is much more powerful than my Braswell and of course Bay Trail. So you clearly have no real experience with Atom based compters (or maybe only with 2008 – 2012 era in-order chips) and you’re telling nonsense you found somewhere on Internet troll forum run by “experts”.

    2. It sounds like you follow the branding more than the hardware itself. Intel’s “Atom” line has made some fairly large performance improvements over the generations.

      In the early days, they were hardly powerful enough to run Windows itself. In the last generation, they were acceptable in many respects.

      This time, I think we’re going to see some big improvements, mostly because I believe Intel will not make the mistake of selling an ultra-lowend model like they did last time.

  2. I’m a big fan of low power fanless processors. My Linux desktop has a fanless Celeron J1900 quad core processor, and my Chromebook has a fanless Celeron N3060 dual core processor. Both of these processors blow away the fanless Atom N270 single core processor that came in my Dell Linux Netbook running Ubuntu. They have multi cores and 64 bit support. I probably won’t upgrade either of these until one of them dies. No need for a Core i7, because I’m not running bloated Microsoft Windows.

    1. No. The Goldmont Plus chips mentioned here are the Gemini Lake Celerons and Pentium Silvers and they’re already twice as powerful as the Cherry Trail X7 Atoms from 2015. The Gemini Lake chips came out at the end of 2017, but the Apollo Lake Chips that came before were also quite a bit more powerful than the Cherry Trail chips like the z8750.

    2. Hopefully they mean the X7-Z8750 since that’s the best Atom core available. The faster netbook Atom’s don’t count because they’re only marginally fast, but are alot more inefficient (less advanced?). So that’s a big if.

      Is the +30% improvement coming from only the Tremont core, or are they mixing it up with a hybrid Sunny Cove-Tremont CPU?

      And is the improvement coming at equal or lower power draw (6W)?

      Lastly, is the new chip hardware protected from Spectre, Meltdown, and Spoiler vulnerabilities?

      …if Intel is being honest about this, I’d welcome the addition!

      1. Tremont is absolutely going to trash the x7-Z8750.

        It’s probably going to be close to 2.5x the performance. Even if you consider 30% per generation, you are getting 2.2x(30% from Goldmont, 30% from Goldmont Plus, 30% from Tremont).

        But reviews of them show the gains were in the 30-40% range.

  3. I had an Atom based Acer Netbook that worked well until it got bricked by a Microsoft Windows update. I loaded Linux on it and it now works well as a music box and internet radio.

  4. Sounds promising…but this is real when you can buy it at Best buy and I do not expect to see this in a low cost notebook much before summer 2020 as a standalone architecture, maybe we will see this as hybrid architecture before that but again nothing before spring 2020 IMO. Also ARM`s hybrid architecture has been available since the Snapdragon 835 and I bet you can buy a snapdragon 865 phone before you can get anything from Intel…that would 4 generations from ARM vs zero from Intel !!

  5. Is power consumption better/same as the previous Atoms? Wondering if these can enable decent fanless handgel UMPCs.