Intel Atom ProcessorThis month, Intel has officially announced its intention to get into the ultra-mobile computing market with the introduction of its Atom line of processors. Previously called "Silverthorne," Atom processors will be targeted toward internet-ready, lower cost mobile devices. With this release, Intel has made clear its prediction that demand for mobile internet devices (MIDs) will rise over the next few years. Intel sees these chips landing in high-end smart phones as well as low cost ultra-portable computers. You can read the press release here.
Intel is touting more compact designs, decreased power consumption, and increased battery life for devices running with an Atom processor. The Intel press release from earlier this month claims the Atom processor is based on an entirely new microarchitecture, making it Intel's smallest and lowest-power processor yet. The chips will be manufactured on Intel's 45nm process. Released simultaneously, the Atom Centrino technology will be based on multiple chips all working more efficiently for low-cost, ultra-mobile internet computing. The processor is said to contain 47 million transistors. "Small, but amazing," says Intel.
Excitement abounded after Intel showed off several devices at last year's Intel Developer's Forum, and it has yet to quiet down. Says Intel's Executive Vice President and Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, "This small wonder is a fundamental new shift in design, small yet powerful enough to enable a big Internet experience on these new devices. We believe it will unleash new innovation across the industry."
I've already explained my opinion on ultra-portable computing , and I think that this has real potential if it takes off in the smart phone and hand-held device markets. I'd be more likely to want to use a hand-held device that is running on an Atom processor than an ultra-portable laptop that is running a Core 2 Duo processor. Intel's CEO has claimed that the Atom (still named Silverthorne at the time) is the most significant development at Intel since the original Pentium chip. While I'm not yet convinced this is the case, I do believe this new line of thinking and design has merit.