Intel Fires Up New Atom Processors


Intel officially launched its new Atom processor, previously code-named Silverthorne (for Mobile Internet Devices) and Diamondville (for Netbooks and Nettops), which carries the hopes of the company to ignite a big growth phase - one that exceeds the most important blockbuster in the company's history: The 486 processor. Get here on TG Daily the announcement as well the technical details, performance estimates and the reasons why Atom may succeed - or fail to deliver.

Baby Centrino is born: Having unveiled the brand some time ago, the company has announced the new CPU at its Spring IDF, which opened earlier today in Shanghai, China. This first series is based on the low-power "Silverthorne" variant targeting Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs). Intel is offering five different versions of the chip, ranging from 800 MHz to a 1.86 GHz clock speed, power consumption between 0.6 watts and 2.4 watts, FSB400 to FSB533, multithreading support and prices that range from $45 to $160 (including the "Poulsbo" chipset, which is now officially called "System Controller Hub" or short "SCH").

In a nutshell, Intel says that the Atom CPU will deliver "the best Internet experience in your pocket". That claim is partially based on the firm's target market of portable communication devices with a 5" screen that cover navigation features, Internet connectivity, video playback and handheld gaming. Intel says that Silverthorne will be leading this segment in performance and is x86 compatible. In fact, supported instructions as well as certain technical features are identical with the mobile version of the mobile Core 2 Duo processor with Merom core.

Between 25 and 30 different MIDs have been or will be announced during IDF, according to Intel. 10 of those devices will make their way to the U.S. in the second half of this year. One of them will integrate WiMax capability (since this article was written before the actual announcement, we will have to wait to write about that device until it is announced).

Before we focus on the technical highlights of Atom, let's take a brief look where the processor actually comes from.