Intel Rethinks Its Atom Roadmap

Brad Chacos

Intel's taken some shots to the ribs recently. Several tablets have gone with ARM-based chipsets rather than Intel's old standby, x86. Then, Nokia left Intel at the Medfield processor altar, running off into the sunset with Windows 7 phones instead. So what's a down-on-its-luck processor manufacturer to do?

Grit its teeth and double-down on technology, that's what.

Intel announced an aggressive schedule for its line of low-voltage Atom processors at a recent investor meeting, calling its previous road map "inadequate." The mobile Atom processors have never quite caught up to Intel's desktop technology. Intel plans on changing that in 2014 by releasing a new 14nm Atom core, nicknamed Airmont, simultaneously for PCs and mobile devices.

That unveiling will be the pinnacle of Intel's rapid acceleration of Atom development, and it's only 3 years away. Current Atom processors use a 45nm core; the company already has a working 32nm core in the Medfield processor currently in development, and has plans to roll out a 22nm version, nicknamed Silvermont, in 2013.

Intel hopes to do more than slim its processors down; they want the processors to work smarter, not harder. Starting with the Silvermont, the company hopes to reduce the current 40W power target by more than half.

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