Intel's already popular Atom chip may get a whole lot more interesting next year if a leaked slide turns out to be accurate. The slide comes courtesy of Japanese technology news site PCWatch, and it shows that Intel plans on bringing a next-generation Atom chip to market in Q3 2009. Code named Pineview, the CPU will come in both dual- and single-core versions, according to the report.
But the biggest news with the new Atom is its Lincroft microarchitecture. Lincroft differs from the current Silverthorne microarchitecture by integrating both a GPU core and a memory controller into the chip package. How exactly Intel plans to mesh a GPU core remains a mystery, but such a feat would spark an already booming Netbook market, assuming it would even be made available for Netbook systems.
Making things even more interesting, AMD is reportedly readying its own Atom competitor code named Bobcat, which is expected to be a single-core 1GHz AMD64 processorwith 256kb of L2 cache with an 8W power draw.
The ultraportable craze has been nothing short of ultra popular, and it might get even better next month. While Intel senior VP Pat Gelsinger was delivering his keynote during IDF on Monday, Cnet claims an Intel employee spilled the beans on the company's plans to offer up a dual-core Atom in September, a move that would make the Nettop market even more popular than it already is. Specifics weren't disclosed, but if earlier reports hold true, look for the new hyperthreading-capable chip to come clocked at 1.6GHz per core on a 533MHz front-side bus with 1MB of L2 cache.
Dunnington and Nehalem
On a more official note, Intel revealed plans to also offer its six-core Dunnington server processor in September, which will be the last member of Intel's 45nm Penryn family. And while on the topic of cores, Intel also showed the first eight-core Nehalem chip. Gelsinger said the new chip will be a monolithic design with all eight cores crammed onto a single piece of silicon. Tasty!
Forget any talk of shortages or competitive pressure from VIA, Intel's Atom processors are thriving amid the recent Netbook and Mobile Internet Device (MID) movement. "Atom is off to a very, very rapid start, far exceeding our expectations when we started the year," CFO Stacy Smith said in an interview Tuesday. "It's the perfect recession product to have in the marketplace."
The success of its Atom processor has helped Intel achieve a 25 percent rise in quarterly profit despite a weak global economy, with Smith maintaining an overall revenue forecast in the third quarter between $10.0 and $10.6 billion.
Yields are good too. According to Smith, Intel gets about 2,500 Atom processors per silicon wafer, and while that's not quite as good as on a Core or Xeon chip, it's enough to ensure strong profitability on Atom CPUs. Still, Intel remains cautiously optimistic.
"We'll know kind of in six months how much of this demand (for Atom) is real and how much is customers thinking they're going to win in the market place and double-ordering," Smith said. "It seems to be growing the market rather than cannibalizing existing PC sales."
Will Intel's Atom chips continue to exceed expectations now that Centrino 2 platforms are starting to trickle out?
Much has been made over Intel's Atom processor, the 45nm wonder-chip finding its way into more netbooks than production can seemingly keep up with. But lest the world forget, VIA also has a low power chip of its own, one the company claims delivers "truly optimized performance for the most demanding computing, entertainment, and connectivity applications."
VIA's 65nm Nano processor saw an official launch a full two months ago, but it's Intel's Atom that keeps getting the attention. Is it justified? A pair of review sites looked to answer that question by pitting an Intel Atom 230 (1.6GHz) against a VIA Nano L2100 (1.8GHz), and both sites came to the same conclusion: VIA's Nano is the faster processor.
Clocked 12.5 percent faster the Atom chip, it should come as no surprise to see the Nano L2100 churn out better performance numbers, but it's the margin of victory that might turn a few heads. In some cases, the Nano chip outpaced the Atom by a margin of 15 to 20 percent, showing it deserves more attention than just as an also-ran.
Of course, it's all for naught if VIA can't win the one contest that matters most: Vendor support.
Intel has unveiled its new system-on-a-chip (SoC) offering for embedded systems. The Intel EP80579 microprocessors, based on the Pentium M core, will be integrated in a host of products that roughly fall under the umbrella of industrial robotics, security, storage and communication devices. Each of the new integrated processors has a CPU core, memory controller, IO controller and acceleration technology onboard.
Intel has not only curtailed the appetite for power of these chips by 34% but also reduced their size by 45%. Since this is only the first of the eight such chips, a lot lies in store in terms of improvements.It is known that Intel will soon – sometime next year – integrate the Atom’s core into its SoC products.
The company has literally made even highly diverse devices, which employ its new SoC products, more compatible with each other, as the revamped integrated processors are all based on its X86 architecture. The chip manufacturer has thrust its weight behind MIDs (mobile internet device) and the new crop of its integrated processors will be employed in them; besides an entire gamut of consumer electronics products.
Intel’s CEO Paul Otellini had a bounce in his step going into his shareholder briefing on Tuesday. Intel’s continued dominance over AMD and a solid earnings report has left his investors glad they placed their money in hardware rather then software. Investors on the other hand are nothing if not fickle. The conference call quickly turned into a debate over the shortage of Atom processors and weakness in Intel’s flash memory business. Put on the defensive Paul Otellini hinted that Atom isn’t the chip maker’s primary focus. "(Atom) is less than a third the performance of our Centrino (processor). You're dealing with something that most of us wouldn't use," he said. He further goes on to clarify that Atom is aimed at the emerging Netbook audience and is a way that Intel can grow without cannibalizing its other processor offerings. He continued to reassure investors that Intel has plenty of Atom chips in stock and back end improvements to testing as well as increased production of chipsets should solve the problem. Intel has been steadily increasing its production capacity of the popular CPUs since November.
If you're a subscriber to Maximum PC magazine, turn to page 8 in this month's issue (and for everyone else, hit the subscription link) and read Gordon Mah Ung's take on Intel and Nvidia's Secret War. Gordon discusses the issues preventing users from being able to run SLI on an Intel chipset, and what roadblocks might be in place for future Nehalem support on upcoming Nvidia chipsets. In other words, you might end up having to choose a side. Sound familiar?
Now there's talk of Nvidia want to support Intel's Atom processor, and whether or not you care about the low-cost PC and MID market, it might be in your best interest if the two sides can come to an agreement. But can they? Earlier in the year Nvidia and VIA entered into an alliance, and speculation suggests it was forged to compete against Intel's Atom. Now it appears Nvidia's intention all along may have been to gain a bargaining chip to convince Intel to let its Atom processor support Nvidia's MCP73 IGP chipset. If Intel agrees, DigiTimes reports Nvidia will then terminate its alliance with VIA and its Nano processor. And while VIA might not be too pleased with the idea (rebound relationships never work out anyway), an agreement over licensing terms in the low-cost PC market might open the door to better communication in the mid- to high-end desktop sectors.
As previously rumored, Asus' new Eee PC 904 will sport both a larger keyboard and bigger chassis akin to the Eee PC 1000, while also carrying a comfortable price tag of just £269 when it ships in the UK in mid-July. But in order to reach the low price point (and perhaps cope with Intel's Atom shortage), the new model will feature an Intel Celeron M processor instead of the popular Atom chip. Asus previously indicated the shortage of Atom processors would continue through September, a scenario which has low-cost panel makers more than a little bit nervous.
But the Atom chip isn't the only component playing a disappearing act; Asus plans to go with an 80GB hard drive for storage duties instead of a speedier SSD commonly found on other Eee PCs. Rounding out the spec sheet will be 1GB DDR2 RAM and Windows XP instead of the oft used Linux OS.
No word yet on when U.S. residents can expect to see the 1.4kg ultraportable on store shelves.
With weak demand from the digital photo frame market - in part possibly as a result of pre-existing malware infestations - LCD panel makers are hoping low-cost notebooks will pick up the slack and drive sales of medium-sized shipments in the second half of the year. But according to DigiTimes, a growing concern among panel makers is that a shortage of Intel Atom processors might affect their July shipments of 7- to 10-inch panels, the same ones used in low-cost notebooks and several mobile internet gadgets. Painting an even gloomier picture, Asus president Jerry Shen said last month the Atom shortage could last until September, giving LCD panel makers a major case of the summertime blues.
Looks like Maximum PC isn't the only one sporting an overhauled site these days. AtomFilms, owned by MTV Networks (who in turn is owned by Viacom), relaunches today as simply Atom.com. More than a name change, the redesigned site will focus exclusively on comedy because, well, the web apparently isn't funny enough already.
Click through the jump to find out about the many other changes, and how you can not only be a part of it, but perhaps profit from it too.