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

Why Moorestown Matters

How big of a deal is Moorestown to Intel? Two of the first factoids Intel dropped at its briefing were these: 1) Globally, there will be one billion more new “connected” users by 2015 than there are today. 2) By 2015, there will be 10 billion connected devices in use. How much of this will be PCs versus non-PCs? In June of 2008, Gartner declared that “the number of installed PCs worldwide has surpassed 1 billion units” and that “it will surpass 2 billion units by early 2014.” Even assuming that Intel’s projection is overly optimistic and that a large swath of these future “connected devices” will be things like gaming consoles, connected cars, or whatever, we’re still talking about multiple billions of connected handheld devices in use. Is this feasible? Considering that the International Telecommunications Unions’ 2009 annual report pegged global mobile phone usage at 4.6 billion units, yeah—I’d say billions of “PC-like” handhelds is totally feasible. Intel might just sell more ultramobile processors in the next five years than it has sold into the PC market over its entire history.

Looking back across the last couple of weeks, taking in the specifics of Moorestown, its evolution, and what information Intel has fed (and not fed) to the press, I believe that this launch is roughly equivalent to the arrival of Conroe and the Core 2 family. Conroe put a final stake through the heart of NetBurst and confirmed Intel’s commitment to abandoning frequency as the central measure and means of processor performance. It led Intel down a different path for desktops and notebooks and allowed Intel to keep up a pace of innovation that competitors have been unable to match.

I believe Moorestown, and especially the Lincroft SoC architecture, will do the same for Intel’s ultramobility pursuits. Silverthorne was simply a warm-up, a prelude. Are there still blemishes waiting to be discovered in shipping Moorestown devices? Almost certainly. It seems very unlikely that even Intel could go from a chip as maligned as the original Atom to a miraculous revolution in just one generation. I suspect if the platform were that good, I’d have a unit in my hand right this minute. It would rival the iPad, cure the sick, game the stock market, and draw the fairer sex like moths to a flame. Heck, I’d settle for any one of those things.

Who needs a sportscar when you have the hottest new superphone platform? Pankaj Kedia, Intel's top marketing mastermind for Moorestown, struts his wares for the womenfolk. They seem impressed.Who needs a sportscar when you have the hottest new superphone platform? Pankaj Kedia, Intel's top marketing mastermind for Moorestown, struts his wares for the womenfolk. They seem impressed.

No, the message of Moorestown is not that Intel is suddenly the best mobility platform on the planet. Even company reps admitted that the Moorestown scorecard is mixed. Compared to its rivals, Moorestown is allegedly on par for browsing and standby power, trailing on audio playback, and excelling on video—and excelling so much that direct comparisons are often impossible. Moorestown debunks the common belief that IA is too power-hungry to succeed in ultramobility. As of now, IA is ready to fuel the rocket in your pocket.

With power needs met and performance at least on par with the competition, Intel finds itself with a familiar challenge. If the company can scale Atom on ultramobiles in the same way it scaled Core 2, then the future of ultramobility and perhaps mainstream computing seems all but sure to remain in Intel’s corner. One engineer commented, “Intel sees the Internet as a primary means to the end...and the end itself.” If that’s true, if the race in mainstream hardware is really a race to enable the best browsing experiences possible, regardless of size, shape, or location, then Moorestown seems likely to bring that end within Intel’s reach.

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  • silverx75
    Man, and the HTC Incredible just came out....
  • yannifb
    Huh, i wonder how this will compete with Bobcat, which supposedly will have 90% of desktop chip performance according to AMD.
  • descendency
    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...
  • Greg_77
    silverx75Man, and the HTC Incredible just came out....

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

    And so the march of technology continues!
  • Anonymous
    well we can only wait till amd gets their ULV chips out with their on die graphics so we can get a nice comparison.
  • Chemist87
    Can it run Crysis?
  • williamvw
    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.
  • seboj
    I've only had time to read half the article so far, but I'm excited! Good stuff, good stuff.
  • burnley14
    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!
  • ta152h
    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.
  • liquidsnake718
    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
  • anamaniac
    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.
  • technoholic
    Intel will for sure put these advancements in their upcoming Desktop CPU families. Low power consumption + high performance anyone?
  • steddy
    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?
  • JohnnyLucky
    Read the whole article. Read several sections twice. It sure sounds good. Wondering what the monthly fee for service will be in 2015.
  • jesseralston
    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.
  • Snipergod87
    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.
  • erloas
    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.
  • neiroatopelcc
    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.
  • jecastej
    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?