Intel is stepping up the pace on development of next-generation Atom chips. While the company has dominated the netbook space with its line of low power Atom processors for the last few years, the growing tablet and smartphone markets are currently dominated by low power ARM-based chips. Intel has been working to reduce power consumption of its chips while increasing performance, and now Intel CEO Paul Otellini says the company is redrawing its roadmap.
Today’s Atom chips are designed using a 45nm process. We could see more efficient 32nm “Medfield” chips next year, 32nm “Silvermont” chips in 2013, and 14nm “Airmont” chips in 2014.
In other words, the Atom line of low power chips will hit 14nm at the same time as the company’s more powerful desktop and notebook chips. Right now Intel Atom chips tend to be a generation or so behind the company’s higher end designs.
EE Times reports that Intel isn’t just focusing on making its Atom chips more energy efficient though. A typical Intel notebook chip today has a TDP of 40W. The goal is to cut that to 15W with the upcoming 22nm chips which could lead to much longer battery life for next-generation notebooks and high-end slate computers.
Looks like Intel is putting the Atom chips on the same “tick-tock” cycle
as its Core chips.
This refers to alternate-year process or architecture changes. That is, in one year, the process is changed to smaller feature (circuit) size in nm (nanometers). The next year, the chip’s architecture is tweaked. But both changes don’t occur in the same year so that fewer things can go wrong.
Doubtless, Intel was stung by the blistering pace of ARM CPU improvements by ARM’s various licensees, even introducing quad
cores before this year’s end.
Of course, none of these ARM fabs can match Intel’s vaunted process
technology, which gives Intel a buffer in that Intel’s designs might not
be as powerful, efficient, or energy thrifty as others’, but all Intel needs
to do is play its process card, and the competition’s architecture improvements are mitigated.
This will result in a bonanza for consumers and sleepless nights for
Sometimes I question why anyone would ever want to make devices.
It seems like a similar question to wanting to become US president.
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