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Intel to transform Atom with Silvermont platform

Will give low power chips similar performance to main Core line, targeting first processors at Android slates and phones


Published: 1 May, 2013

READ MORE: Intel | Processor | Android

Intel made performance compromises when it designed Atom, in order to chase ARM in terms of power efficiency. That was fine when Atom made its debut, mainly in netbooks, five years ago, but since then, ARM users have been challenging Intel at its own game of high processor performance. So Intel is responding next week with the first major reimagining of Atom, designed to boost horsepower while driving power consumption even lower.

On May 6, the chip giant is expected to unveil the Silvermont micro-architecture, and the first two processors based on that, codenamed Bay Trail (for tablets) and Merrifield (for smartphones). Intel said in a statement that EVP Dadi Perlmutter - one of the executives tipped as possible successor to outgoing CEO Paul Otellini - would discuss the "next generation Atom micro-architecture targeted at a range of market segments from low power tablets and smartphones, to microservers, the data center, and much more."

The new Atom will use a similar high performance, out-of-order design as the mainstream Core processors as well as the same graphics coprocessors. It will integrate up to four cores, harnessing Intel's biggest process breakthrough in years, its 22nm 3D transistor design.

Intel expects its new chips to usher in not only more competitive Windows 8 tablets, but a wide range of form factors - notebooks, slates, hybrids, phones and emerging designs - running Android. The firm has been a big supporter of Android in smartphones, ignoring former soulmate Microsoft's Windows Phone alternative, but has remained largely faithful to Windows on larger gadgets. Now Acer, Asus and others are already believed to be readying Atom/Android notebooks and tablet/laptop combinations.

Products with the Bay Trail processor should appear in time for the holiday buying season, and Merrifield-based handsets early in 2014.

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