Intel Details Atom "Silvermont" Architecture

Paul Lilly

Silvermont is significantly different from Atom architectures that have preceded it.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Silvermont, the codename for the next generation of Intel's Atom line and the first in a family of yearly refreshes. Oh, and forget any preconceived notions you have about Atom, Silvermont is far different from the architecture found in your first or second generation notebook. It's a brand new design using Intel's 22nm 3D Tri-Gate SoC (System-on-Chip), which Intel claims will deliver "significant increases in performance and energy efficiency."

How significant? According to Intel, Silvermont can deliver 3x more peak performance or the same performance at 1/5th the power over current generation Atom parts. As a result of these improvements, Intel foresees Silvermont being used in a wide range of applications, including smartphones, tablets, microservers, network infrastructure, storage, entry level laptops, in-vehicle infotainment, and more.

"Silvermont is a leap forward and an entirely new technology foundation for the future that will address a broad range of products and market segments," said Dadi Perlmutter , Intel executive vice president and chief product officer. "Early sampling of our 22nm SoCs, including 'Bay Trail' and 'Avoton' is already garnering positive feedback from our customers. Going forward, we will accelerate future generations of this low-power microarchitecture on a yearly cadence."

This is the first time Intel has used its 22nm 3D Tri-Gate technology to build an SoC. Some highlights of Silvermont include a new out-of-order execution engine to improve single-threaded performance, a multi-core and system fabric architecture that's scalable up to eight cores, new IA instructions and technologies built on top of existing support for 64-bit, and enhanced power management capabilities, including a new intelligent burst technology and low power C states.

Intel provided release dates for a handful of Silvermont CPUs. They include:

  • Bay Trail: Quad-core processor for tablets, shipping holiday 2013.
  • Merrifield: Smartphone processor, shipping by the end of 2013.
  • Avoton: Microserver chip, shipping in the second half of this year.
  • Rangeley: Routers and other networking gear, shipping second half of this year.

Silvermont is Intel's first real attempt at competing in mobile markets. It will be interesting to see if Silvermont can live up to the hype.

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