Intel may be preparing to launch a low power Atom processor with the same graphics architecture found in the company’s upcoming Ivy Bridge chips. That would enable much better support for HD video and 3D graphics in future Atom processors, as well as better support for Linux-based operating systems.

Intel roadamap - Advantech

Phoronix reports that Intel has released open source drivers for the new Intel Atom Valley View chips which will succeed Intel’s Cedar View platform.

The new drivers indicate that Intel is moving away from PowerVR graphics in its upcoming Atom chips, instead using the Intel HD 4000 Ivy Bridge graphics platform. While Ivy Bridge CPUs are expected to be only a little faster than today’s Sandy Bridge Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 processors, word on the street is that we should expect as much as a 40 percent performance boost.

And that’s a boost over Sandy Bridge graphics… the difference should be even more noticeable in the low power Atom chip space.

While Intel isn’t releasing much additional information about the new Valley View chips yet, the folks at The Verge spotted a few mentions of the upcoming processors in presentations from Advantech.

Intel Atom Valley View

If the information is accurate, it looks like this is what we can expect:

  • 22nm architecture
  • 1 to 4 processor cores
  • Up to 8GB of DDR3 RAM supported
  • USB 3.0 port
  • 4 times the graphics performance of current chips

It looks like we won’t see Valley View chips until the beginning of 2013 at the earliest.

The chips sound like they’d be great not only for netbooks and tablets but also low power media centers and or light-duty desktop PCs.

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10 replies on “Intel Atom Valley View chips to feature Ivy Bridge graphics”

  1. I always go for whatever netbook has the hightest-end graphics support so I can use it for mobile gaming and PhotoShop, and so far, that’s meant netbooks w/ AMD chips.  This sounds OK, but I don’t see them beating AMD any time soon in netbook graphics.

  2. Odd.  The HD4000 is massive compared to the size of Atom cores, and especially PowerVR GPUs.  They’d have to either strip it way down, or be ready to sacrifice TDP to bump the graphics, which I just don’t see happening.

    My guess is even if Intel uses it’s own internal blend of special sauce for the GPU, it’s going to be pared way back, and you’ll have the joy of dealing with Intel’s quirky and usually horrific driver support.

    1.  Intel driver support for it’s own GMA is actually pretty good, especially compared to all the times they’ve tried using 3rd party GPU solutions like the Imagination Technology PowerVR based GMA’s with truly bad support. At least with the Intel drivers you can be reasonably sure of being able to install anything you want, including linux, and it’ll run.

      Intel just hasn’t been providing a really performance competitive solution up till now but mind they also don’t need to provide as much performance in the ATOM range of systems.  So even if watered down it’s still possible they can provide a better GMA than available for the ATOM line now.

      Mind also that Intel will still be making more improvements by 2013 as Ivy Bridge is scheduled to be replaced by Haswell in 2013, which will squeeze everything into a SoC, and they’re upping the GMA performance again with it.

      Haswell is suppose to have three performance range GPU solutions with the highest getting either 20 or 40 Executive Units, vs Ivy Bridge’s 16 EU’s, for the highest end version.

      So there’s a chance they’ll be able to squeeze more performance than we presently think is possible and still fit it into the ATOM SoC (2013, all ATOM’s are going SoC).  Though unlikely they will match or exceed AMD’s solutions with those TDP and size limits but they only really need to match mobile devices level of graphics to remain relevant.

      Though they can always opt for the low end version of Nvidia Kepler as a alternative if any of those next gen ATOM’s need a real graphical boost.

      1. The one thing I really don’t like about Cedar Trail is that it doesn’t quite have Linux drivers.  Running Linux is a VM is pretty much too slow on an Atom (no VT-x except kinda-sorta on the N570) so I have to go native when doing work in Linux on an Atom (or just log in to another machine running Linux).

        1.  Yes, it’s unfortunate that Intel couldn’t do a better job on the drivers for Cedar Trail and wound up having similar troubles with the new GMA as they had the last time they tried using a PowerVR GPU with the GMA 500.

          Though that’s why it’s good news that Intel will go back to its own GMA with the next update.

          The only form of linux that really works on Cedar Trail right now is the last version of Meego they released, but that was a kernel update fix they used and not applicable to other linux distros and of course Intel no longer supports Meego and it’s not exactly the version of linux most would want to use.

          While the state of VT-x is unknown for this upcoming ATOM series but they are suppose to introduce a lot of changes to the architecture and many of the old self imposed limits of the ATOM will likely be discontinued.

          After all, they’ll be competing with the ARM market by then and ARM is starting to employ virtualization.

          In the meantime, progress on GMA 500/600 drivers has improved quite a bit and hopefully that’ll mean the drivers for the Cedar Trail GMA 3600/3650 might also get improved before the end of the year but otherwise it doesn’t look like a good year for ATOM’s in netbooks.

  3. Is this with the new Atom architecture that’s supposedly going to bring much better CPU performance? Don’t really care about the graphics part. I’ve been eying ultrabooks but they’ve been disappointing in terms of footprint and battery life. Now, I’m hoping for these new Atom based netbooks to actually provide better performance with better/same battery life.

    1.  The move to 22nm is when Intel is suppose to bring in a lot of the technology that Ivy Bridge is introducing.  So yes, this will be one of the next gen ATOM processors with the re-worked architecture that should be a game changer for the ATOM line.

      If you’d note from the slide chart image, though, they color coded Sandy Bridge as still being in development, which means that slide is from 2010.  So Balboa probably already got name changed to Silvermont, which is what the most recent rumored information has centered about.

      The thing with going 22nm is that Intel has solved many issues like power leakage that going smaller normally increases, along with efficiency improvements like their tri-gate transistors, and so for them the FAB shrink will bring about a big improvement in power efficiency and reduce power consumption.

      Mind though that ARM power consumption is starting to reach the point that they’re having to make improvements just to keep it about the same.  While some, like the new iPad, actually doubled power consumption to give better performance because they couldn’t wait for the next gen hardware. 

      So if all goes as planned for Intel then ARM may no longer have the obvious power consumption/efficiency advantage it has now.

      While the architectural update will bring in performance enhancing features that are long overdue for the ATOM, which right now is still working on pretty much the same architecture as when it was first introduced years ago.  So should be a big difference with this update.  Though there will still be limits as they will be focusing on the mobile market and still trying to keep the ATOM separate from their higher end laptop and desktop chips.

      1. “While some, like the new iPad, actually doubled power consumption to give better performance because they couldn’t wait for the next gen hardware.”

        So maybe this is why 3rd gen iPad runs hot.

        “While the architectural update will bring in performance enhancing features that are long overdue for the ATOM, which right now is still working on pretty much the same architecture as when it was first introduced years ago.”

        Sounds like it could make netbooks much more viable. That is, if netbooks can hang on long enough to see this update. Would be a shame to see them go away just as the technology matures.

        Perhaps what is needed is a marketing solution. Instead of calling them netbooks, a term which unfortunately garnered a negative stigma, come up with a new term (microbooks?) the same way they came up with a new term ‘ultrabooks’.

        1.  Yes, the retina screen of the new iPad requires more powerful back light, which may account for most of the heat. Along with the high resolution putting a higher average load on the GPU’s, which themselves have been doubled in number and GPU’s generally generate more heat than CPU’s.  Then finally the battery itself is put under more load and the charging process also generates heat.

          Overall though, the new iPad is still cool compared to a laptop but without active cooling it can mean under certain conditions you are more likely to run into a situation where the iPad can get hot enough to force a auto shut-down or it may not charge to protect the battery from the heat.

          While also heavy use can perhaps now draw more power than the 5v @ 2A charger can provide.

          Now as to netbooks, it may be we’re finally at a point that there needs to be a device evolution and we may see netbooks merged with tablets.

          MS for example is trying to get a patent on a docking system that will let a base device switch over to a more powerful processor when docked.

          Along with the possibility of Intel’s variable and programmable TDP could allow for one chip to serve both mobile ULV usage and more demanding performance use when docked and connected to AC.

          Some power enhancing features are already starting to be used.  Such as with the Medfield ATOM.  The chip going into Smart Phones is actually a 1.3GHz single core that bursts to 1.6GHz as needed.  Similar to Intel’s Turbo Boost but that kind of technology has never been applied to the ATOM before.

          So the future looks promising, even if the netbooks of tomorrow don’t look anything like the netbooks of today.

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