Richi Jennings

New Intel Atom smashes ARM; Moorestown SoC unveiled

May 05, 2010 6:01 AM EDT
By Richi Jennings. May 5, 2010.

Intel has pulled the wraps off its second generation Atom platform. Codenamed Moorestown, it's a speedy, yet ultra-low power system-on-a-chip design, aimed at smartphones and tablets. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers get dizzy at the pace of change.
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Rik Myslewski is shocked to discover Intel's aspirations for the new Atom:
Intel is positioning Moorestown as a smartphone world-beater. ... Quoted battery life in a typical smartphone form factor ... would be approximately 10 days of standby life, ... six hours of 3G talk time. ... Idle power for the ... platform ... is "21-ish milliwatts". That's less than one fiftieth [of] the ... power required by the previous-generation.
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[But] low power doesn't translate to low performance. ... The Atom Z6XX Series - will be available in speeds of up to 1.5GHz for smartphones and 1.9GHz for tablets.more

Daniel Robinson examines its performance:
The chipmaker ... claimed ... Moorestown ... offers a greater level of performance than ARM-based designs. ... Intel did demonstrate ... a reference handset design ... [and a] 7in tablet system from OpenPeak. The phone ... was shown running the Quake 3 game ... and multi-tasking with a movie ... a running 3D benchmark, and a live video feed open in adjacent windows.
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[It has] built-in PowerVR 3D graphics acceleration, plus hardware acceleration for video encoding and decoding. ... Intel claimed that Moorestown is the only smartphone platform capable of ... 1080p video. ... A companion chip ... lumps together numerous miscellaneous functions ... camera support, audio engine and hardware cryptography acceleration.more

Anand Lal Shimpi digs deep:
Two years [ago] ... I wrote ...  it was Intel's smartphone aspirations that would make or break ... Atom. ... Time sure does fly. ... This isn’t your netbook’s Atom. ... [It] has the potential to be the most exciting thing ... since the iPhone.
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[There's a] huge gap between the performance of today’s 1GHz smartphone SoCs and an Atom powered netbook. ... We can assume that ... Moorestown ... [is] somewhere in between. ... Performance on a dual Cortex A9 at 1GHz approaches that of a 1.2GHz Moorestown, nothing can touch the 1.5GHz part.more

Scott Bicheno asks, "How worried should ARM be?"
When talking to ... companies like Qualcomm and TI as well as ARM itself - the biggest knock they have on Intel's efforts thus far is power usage. ... Intel historically specialises in turbo-charged, power-hungry PC processors.
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This looks like Intel's initial shot across the bows of ARM. ... This launch marks just the first step in a long-term strategy for the world's biggest chip-maker to become a player in the phone market. The ARM ecosystem should take note.more

William van Winkle wakes up to tell us why it matters:
Globally, there will be one billion more new “connected” users by 2015 than there are today. ... There will be 10 billion connected devices in use. ... Intel might just sell more ultramobile processors in the next five years than it has sold into the PC market over its entire history.
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This launch is roughly equivalent to the arrival of Conroe and the Core 2 family ... [which] confirmed Intel’s commitment to abandoning frequency as the central ... means of processor performance. It ... allowed Intel to keep up a pace of innovation that competitors have been unable to match. ...  The future of ultramobility and perhaps mainstream computing seems all but sure to remain in Intel’s corner.more

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Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher   Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email: itbw@richij.com. You can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.