The pint-sized processor continues to punch above its weight with a dual-core netbook chip plus a fully integrated system-on-a-chip for in-car entertainment and media phones.
IDF Beijing 2010 | Intel plans to make its mighty-mite Atom processor both stronger and smarter this year.
The chipmaker is believed to be working on a dual-core Atom aimed at netbooks rather than desktops.
Intel already has two dual-core Atoms – the Diamondville-class Atom 330 and the more recent Pineview-class Atom D510 – but these are designed for all-in-one desktops, net-top boxes and home servers.
The advanced design of the second-gen Atom Pineview processor integrates the processor, graphics and memory controller onto a single 45nm chip which draws half the power compared to the original Diamondville design of the single-core N270 and N280.
This could make it possible for Intel to introduce a beefy dual-core Atom netbook processor to offer a higher level of performance without adversely impacting battery life or system heat.
“I still think there will be significant growth in the netbook business year-over-year” said Intel CEO Paul Otellini, including what he termed as the forthcoming “netbook refresh cycle”.
“The next innovation coming to Atom is on dual-core, which comes out in the second quarter, and I think that will be a very attractive product.”
Otellini wouldn’t be drawn on details but his comments about dual-core were framed within reference to netbooks, not desktops. Intel is also tipped to give the Atom platform a leg up by moving to faster DDR3 memory.
Another path ahead for Atom is the shift into an advanced system-on-chip (SoC) design which crams everything – the processor core, graphics and video engine memory controller hub – onto one chip, with a PCI Express interconnect to third-party silicon.
The SoC design is codenamed Tunnel Creek and it’s headed for the ‘embedded systems’ market for uses such as in-car infotainment and IP media phones.