BMW, Mercedes Integrating Intel Atom Into Cars

Back in my day, there was no such thing as in-car entertainment other than just looking out the window. Sometimes you would be allowed to stick your head outside too if the dog wasn't in the way. Then came the Game Boy, which really made things safer.

These days, however, you'll often see childrens' movies playing in the backseat of minivans. Parents must like such in-car entertainment systems if they keep the little ones quiet.

Things are about to go beyond just the DVD player, as Harman International will be making "infotainment" systems for BMW and Mercedes-Benz. The interesting tidbit revealed at IDF was that the Intel Atom processor would be powering these systems.

Using a general purpose processor such as the Atom in a car is not surprising, given many car functions are converging with those of a PC. Video and music playback is already something many computers can do; and with cars getting 3G internet connections, more advanced navigation and other functions, building a nettop-like system makes sense.

As new and cool as the Atom is now, however, these systems from Harman International won't be hitting until 2012, and only in the BMW 7-series and Mercedes C and S-Class cars.

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • Ciuy
    damn i love the C class .
  • get back to me when it comes into everyday cars and not just luxury cars
  • hopiamani
    Nah it will add weight and slow it down lol
  • radiowars

    Since when do "everyday" cars have computers in them?
  • ckthecerealkiller
    radiowars@njkid3Since when do "everyday" cars have computers in them?All modern cars have some sort of computer in them. Everything is controlled electronically nowadays.

    This is mostly just another toy for those who have the money for it. Any smart person would look at that and say "I can buy a new laptop cheaper and I don't need to be in the car to use it." But hey this may also clear the way for cheaper cars to have them as an option, who knows for sure.
  • jonathan1683
    about time mercedes and bmw get with the times their nav/head units suck
  • mavroxur
    radiowars@njkid3Since when do "everyday" cars have computers in them?

    Since "everyday" cars began using fuel injection widely in the early 80's. It was actually commercialy available much earlier than that.
  • So,will it be an Atom Z series, or an Atom N series?
    Single core, or dual core?
    @800 or 1.667Mhz?

    The Z-series would make sense, seeing that other than playing back radio, and some advanced GPS functions, and a visual feedback system from the car's electronic sensors, the display isn't really used for a lot.
    Perhaps the Atom will be good enough to provide the fluid frame 720p nightvision from the BMW series; but I doubt anyone is going to drive their cars looking at the screen instead of the road.
  • cruiseoveride
    Any sort of standardisation in the car industry is a good thing
  • matt87_50
    God, this is why I hate extras on cars, they make what is the equivalent of a few hundred dollar net book seem like some elite luxury that will only be available on the most expensive models. like it takes some sort of magic to integrate these devices into cars...