Intel's tiny, low-power processors now called 'Atom'

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Intel’s just officially announced its tiniest processor — the Atom, formerly codenamed Silverthorne and Diamondville.

The chip will also be available as part of the “Centrino Atom” platform (codenamed Menlow), which will be “the Intel Atom processor, a low-power companion chip with integrated graphics, a wireless radio, and thinner and lighter designs.”

Here’s more from Intel’s press release…

The Intel Atom processor is based on an entirely new microarchitecture designed specifically for small devices and low power, while maintaining the Intel Core 2 Duo instruction set compatibility consumers are accustomed to when using a standard PC and the Internet. The design also includes support for multiple threads for better performance and increased system responsiveness. All of this on a chip that measures less than 25 mm, making it Intel’s smallest and lowest power processor yet. Up to 11 Intel Atom processor die — the tiny slivers of silicon packed with 47 million transistors each — would fit in an area the size of an American penny.

These new chips, previously codenamed Silverthorne and Diamondville, will be manufactured on Intel’s industry-leading 45nm process with hi-k metal gate technology. The chips have a thermal design power (TDP) specification in 0.6-2.5 watt range and scale to 1.8GHz speeds depending on customer need. By comparison, today’s mainstream mobile Core 2 Duo processors have a TDP in the 35-watt range.

The Atom chip is squarely targeted at MIDs (mobile internet devices), “netbooks,” and “nettops” (basic internet PCs). That last part interests me — the basic internet PCs — because I bet we’ll start seeing $200 to $300 desktops that don’t look like a cheap pile of crap and sound like a 747 taking off.

They’ll probably be a lot smaller and cuter, similar to the Zonbu desktop PC. And they might (might) finally make their way closer and closer to the living room.

Intel Announces Intel® Atom™ Brand for New Family of Low-Power Processors [Intel]

Thanks for the heads up Stefan!

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