Intel’s Atom family  of low-power processors first came to market as a line of chips for inexpensive netbooks and other laptops. In recent years Intel produced Atom chips aimed at tablets and even smartphones… but having failed to find a profitable niche in that space, Intel scrapped its Atom chips for mobile devices earlier this year.

But that doesn’t mean Atom is dead. Instead, the company has been focusing on the Internet of Things space. And now Intel has unveiled one of the most powerful Atom chips to date.

The Atom E3900 processor series processors are Apollo Lake chips that are cousins to Intel’s Celeron N3350 and Pentium N4200 processors.


Since the chips are designed for connected devices such as video surveillance systems, in-vehicle computers, and other IoT products. They don’t need to be as energy-efficient as the company’s earlier Atom chips since they aren’t expected to show up in smartphones, so Intel’s E3900 series chips have TDP ratings of 6 watts to 12 watts. But they also include new features for security and connectivity.

I’ll probably stop paying attention to developments in this space eventually, since Liliputing generally covers mobile tech aimed at consumers, and it increasingly looks like Intel’s vision for the future of Atom included embedded applications for industrial and commercial use. Eventually we may see the technology in smart cars and other items aimed at consumers, but I don’t own a car, so I have a hard time getting excited about smart automotive systems.

That said, it is interesting to see how the chips that powered early netbooks have evolved into an entirely new product category.

Intel will offer a few different Atom E3900 models:

  • Atom x5-E3930: 1.3 GHz dual-core CPU w/6.5W TDP, 1.8 GHz burst speeds
  • Atom x5-E3940: 1.6 GHz quad-core CPU w/9.5W TDP, 1.8 GHz burst speeds
  • Atom x7-E3950: 1.6 GHz quad-core CPU w/12W TDP, 2 GHz burst speeds

Each chip is a 14nm processor with support for up to 8GB of RAM, the ability to work with cameras that can capture 13MP still pictures and 1080p/60fps video, or output 4K video at 60 Hz on up to 3 displays at once.

Intel says the chips officially support several operating systems, including:

  • Windows 10 Enterprise (64-bit)
  • Window 10 IoT Core (32-bit or 64-bit)
  • Wind River 8 Linux (64-bit)
  • Yocto Project Linux (64-bit)
  • Android 7.0 (64-bit, coming in Q2, 2017)
  • Wind River VxWorks 7 RTOS

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10 replies on “Intel launches Atom E3900 for Internet of Things products”

  1. Replaces the ol’ Atom E3800 series for embedded, lookit… which was still Bay Trail with Silvermont arch. Tis means Intel skipped 14nm gen arch in Airmont, and went straight for 14nm Goldmont arch in embedded.

  2. Looks typical of Intel’s embedded Atom lineup, except for the TDP. I think the TDPs are a little high for Intel to position these for IoT use. Sure, wattage doesnt matter for vehicle use, or when connected to AC power, like a router. But this would need a pretty heavy battery to be useful wirelessly.

    In the past, Intel made embedded SOCs as low as 3w (Silvermont architecture). Is this evidence that Intel doesn’t plan on releasing any Goldmont architecture SOCs with 2-3w TDPs?

    1. No, but these are Apollo Lake based models… We’ve yet to see the Broxton based models, like the upcoming Intel Joule, specify their TDP…

      Remember, Apollo Lake replaces Braswell… Broxton is the one optimized for mobile and would have replaced Cherry Trail before that part of the plan was cancelled but they’re still using it for products like the Joule…

  3. Awesome. There’s nothing stopping PC stick manufacturers from loading full windows on to it. And with 4GB+ of RAM, it should be able hand multi-tab web browsing experiences. Forgive me if I ignore as well the whole IoT conversation. Maybe drones and camera applications could inspire me to think… but this is about regular Joe computing ability on a small scale.

      1. Right, 4K simultaneously on three displays does seem like it would generate some heat. Still, I think the compute stick does have a cooling fan. and its always possible to throttle back performance when the chip gets hot.

        1. You’re missing the point, its the TDP. Its a minimum of 6.5w SOC. The Intel Core M runs around 4.5W on a Stick-PC form-factor, and that is pushing the limits.

          1. Ah, learn something new every day. Ah well, perhaps the kangaroo pc form factor would be more appropriate with active cooling.

          2. Err, no… Unless the OEM locks it, the 4.5W is more a base TDP… Core M’s basically range from 3.5/4W SDP and up to 7/8W Turbo Clock max TDP for as long as there’s thermal head room before it throttles and needs to cool down…

            While Apollo Lake is still a ATOM and thus still supports up to 2W lower SDP than the rated TDP, with very low power sipping states with overall better power efficiency than the Core M can reach, which is also suppose to be at least 15% better than the previous Braswell… Along with being able to solder more components than the previous Braswell, with more flexible layout, and that means it can still support a total smaller design than Core M, which gives more room for things like a larger heat sink…

            So, as the Intel PC stick does make use of a active fan, it should still be possible to make a Apollo Lake version, with at least the lower 6.5W rated model… It just won’t be as small as the original mobile ATOM SoC models and will be closer to the larger Core M version of the Intel PC stick… But it is more likely they’ll push something like a Kangaroo PC form factor, especially as it’s easier to support more ports, etc and probably easier to keep costs low…

            Btw, the next Intel update to the Y-Series, after Kaby Lake, will increase the base TDP from 4.5W to 5.2W… So that’s another reason they will probably move away from the PC sticks as they’re focusing more on performance than fan-less small form factor support going forward…

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