Meet Moorestown: Intel's Atom Platform For The Next 10 Billion Devices

Little, Less, And Loving It

To paraphrase vice president Biden, this is a big f—ing deal. After attending this Moorestown briefing, I walked away fairly convinced that I’d just seen the future of mainstream computing. No, I’m not saying that I think 40% of the market will be toting around Moorestown-based devices next year. I mean that, if certain requisite elements are in place, I see no reason why the median form factor used for computing shouldn’t continue its march from the desktop to the pocket.

Look at these recent numbers from IDC. Desktops are done as a growth vector. Intel and AMD can continue their architectural arms race until the cows come home, but desktop PCs are going to become less and less of a market interest as their static sales become an ever-smaller piece of the computing pie.

In contrast, mobile PC sales are going to more than double in the U.S. over the next five years, and the growth rate worldwide is even higher. Mind you, this only extends down to nettop systems. IDC’s numbers don’t account for handhelds or tablets, which IDC is now “keenly focused on,” according to a recent press release.

Look at the 20-year trend. We’ve gone from a market comprised almost entirely of desktops to one now dominated by laptops. Mobile PCs started outselling their desktop counterparts back in mid-2005. Netbooks arrived in earnest during 2008, and now the diminutive form factor seems to be cannibalizing notebooks. Last year, NPD reported that “once they got home, 60 percent of buyers said they never even took their netbooks out of the house.” In July 2009, DisplaySearch released netbook sales numbers showing that notebook sales actually decreased, while netbooks grew 136.9% year-over-year.

If the mainstream computing market is really more about decreasing size than increasing speed or functionality, then it should have come as no surprise a month ago when Bloomberg Businessweek ran an article that said despite netbooks accounting for 26% of all PCs sold during the prior holiday season, “netbooks' popularity may already have peaked.” IDC numbers show netbook growth plummeting from prior-year levels. The article indicates that while several factors may be behind a 2010 fall-off in netbook interest, the arrival of Apple’s iPad and its imminent horde of competitors may be to blame as the industry looks for “the next big thing.”

Add it all up. While no one disputes that desktops will remain important for several applications, particularly at the high-end, the mainstream will continue to place its dollars into smaller form factors. The only reason people haven’t viewed smartphones as computing devices so far is because they haven’t been powerful enough to take over mainstream computing needs. With Moorestown, I believe we’ve reached a crossover point where that’s no longer the case, and if that’s the case, we’re now in a place where your next phone may also be your next PC.

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44 comments
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  • Man, and the HTC Incredible just came out....
    0
  • Huh, i wonder how this will compete with Bobcat, which supposedly will have 90% of desktop chip performance according to AMD.
    6
  • Why isn't this a 32nm product yet? If your concern (which it would be with said devices) is power consumption, shrinking the die can only help...
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  • silverx75Man, and the HTC Incredible just came out....

    Man, and I just got the HTC Incredible... ;)

    And so the march of technology continues!
    0
  • well we can only wait till amd gets their ULV chips out with their on die graphics so we can get a nice comparison.
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  • Can it run Crysis?
    -8
  • descendencyWhy isn't this a 32nm product yet? If your concern (which it would be with said devices) is power consumption, shrinking the die can only help...

    Time to market. 45 nm was quicker for development and it accomplished what needed to get done at this time. That's the official answer. Unofficially, sure, we all know 32 nm will help, but this is business for consumers. Right or wrong, you don't play all of your cards right away.
    3
  • I've only had time to read half the article so far, but I'm excited! Good stuff, good stuff.
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  • This is more exciting to me than the release of 6-core processors and the like because these advances produce tangible results for my daily use. Good work Intel!
    6
  • Do we really need x86 plaguing phones now? Good God, why didn't they use a more efficient instruction set for this? Compatibility isn't very important with the PC, since all the software will be new anyway.

    I like the Atom, but not in this role. x86 adds inefficiencies that aren't balanced by a need for compatibility in this market.
    -6
  • I wonder how this would stack up in terms of simple benches when compared to the atoms? Definitly for power this one is a sure winner by far but this will be interesting to see since the line between server, desktop, laptop, netbook, and mobile phone processors are getting blurred
    0
  • I'm impressed, and I hope this goes far. Sounds like some awesome performance for a x86 chip that competes to RISC chips.

    I was considering buying a Sony Satio, but now I may rethink it.
    1366x768 multi-touch S-AMOLED, magnesium case, 802.11 b/g/n, 3G/4G, miniDP, miniHDMI, miniDVI, microUSB, 64GB high quality flash memory, 12MP main camera with a 5MP front facing camera, a new turbo boost that pumps cocaine into the chip until it gets too hot when the performance is needed but puts the chip to sleep in idle, and a Linux based OS specifically tailored to the chip. Sounds like something I would pay a lot for. Complete desktop PC replacement. :)

    Don't disappoint me Intel. I was hoping for 32nm 8 core LGA 1366 chips by now when I originally bought my i7 system, and you already disappointed me.

    Now only if 5GB/month on 3G didn't cost $85/month in my area, never mind the texting/calling plan.
    2
  • Intel will for sure put these advancements in their upcoming Desktop CPU families. Low power consumption + high performance anyone?
    0
  • I noticed that on the last page of the article there was a reference to "IA Architecture". Is that a typo, or did you mean to be redundant?
    0
  • Read the whole article. Read several sections twice. It sure sounds good. Wondering what the monthly fee for service will be in 2015.
    1
  • Quote:
    As mentioned earlier, has developed a tight allegiance to the Linux-based MeeGo OS, formerly known as Moblin before Intel and Nokia joined hands.
    Missed something here that seems fairly critical to the sentence.
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  • Quote:
    The next checkbox item is battery life. The reality is that we all charge our phones every night. Occasionally, some unforeseen adventure or bout of brain impairment might result in needing to stretch for three or four days, but it’s rare to need a phone’s standby battery time to last for more than 48 hours


    I charge my phone once every week, i would be pretty angry if it didnt hold a charge longer than 48 hours.
    2
  • I also only charge my phone once a week, if that. On the same token my phone is now 2 years old and still holds a charge for a week. A lot of people that charge their phone every day also tend to have phones that won't hold a charge longer then a day or two after a year anyway.

    I also don't see the use of all these MIDs. I hardly even take my laptop out because I have a desktop and other then movement there is nothing the laptop can do that I wouldn't rather use my desktop for.

    MIDs might be ok if they didn't cost an extra $30-50 a month to get access to the internet which I'm already paying $30-50 a month for for my general usage. They might start making sense when someone like Qwest starts included DSL and wireless together for a single reasonable monthly fee so I'm not paying twice for the same thing.

    And unless you absolutely have to know the instant you get an email, and can't go more then a few hours without updating your facebook page, I don't see a daily usage for mobile internet. I probably don't think "boy it would be nice if I could check the internet while I'm out" more then once every couple months.
    -1
  • Articlewill be things like gaming consoles, connected cars, or whatever, we’re still talking about multiple billions of connected handheld devices in use.

    Good luck holding a car in your hands!

    Anyhow, the article seems mighty detailed compared to what we're used to here. Usually only don writes anything this detailed.

    Nice read, though imo the first page looks very much like a bought article.
    -1
  • Yeah great news I think about what this all means for me! The ultramobile sector growing so fast and becoming more and more preeminent. So much excitement at your hand disposal. I don't know, call me pessimist but when looking at those charts I think the best years for desktop computing started to decline a while ago, sniff. Why, well because I see that the huge market dictates where the real money goes for development. Up to these days the desktop enjoyed most of the investment and this is because the mass market wanted faster computers for everything. And now a regular laptop is powerful enough for 90% of the task most users do and will sell 2 or 3 or more times faster. Soon smaller mobile form factor PCs will dominate and I guess my beloved desktop and workstation parts will start to cost more and be updated less frecuently. I am sitting in front of a workstation all day long and I desire a faster progression for the workstations and no any sigh of slow down.

    Anyway beside the progress in the mobile and ultramobile sector I picture in the not so distant future an ultramobile CPU with memory and graphics and storage system the size of a phone in a modular and stackable design and you will have some very serious and scalable mobile supercomputing power. But will mobile form factor CPUs ever going to surpass the need for a desktop machine? Has the computing revolution started from the bottom up and I just noticed?
    -1