It's been a year since Intel fired the opening salvo against regular-size laptopping with its Atom processor. Now, the Z series gets its expected speed bump, and at the bottom end, a low-power MID-oriented model.
The Atom Z550 takes the Atom to heretofore unseen speeds of 2.0GHz, while maintaining a sub-3W power envelope. Obviously, this speed gain is a good thing, but our enthusiasm is dampered by the fact that this is based on familiar, unexciting tech; the Z series "Silverthorn" processors may be power-thrifty and capable, but their architecture hasn't changed much with the new processors. A speed bump and the addition of hyperthreading are appreciated, but these marginal boosts won't be game changers.
On the other side of the performance spectrum, the Z515 winds the processor clock way down. Intel claims that Intel Performance Burst Technology "enables the processor to run at 1.2GHz when performance is needed", scaling up from an idle speed of 800MHz. The Z series processors were originally intended for low power applications like MIDs, and although the Z550 will likely make its way to netbooks, the Z515 is comfortable right where it is, thanks.
But as I've said, these aren't a huge step for Intel, and won't make a massive difference to consumers. For that, you'll have to wait for the new Moorestown platform, based around the 45nm "Lincroft" Atoms, a prototype of which Intel broke out at the conference, just to tease us. Full presser below.
Intel Developer Forum: 1-Year Intel® AtomTM Processor Anniversary
Brings New Chips, Demonstration of Next-Generation Device
Intel Executives Share Vision, Updates at Beijing Tech Event
BEIJING, April 8, 2009 - Celebrating the 1-year anniversary of Intel Corporation's introduction of its wildly popular Intel® AtomTM processor family, Anand Chandrasekher, Intel senior vice president and general manager of the Ultra Mobility Group, introduced two new processors for Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) and several other milestones during his keynote today at the Intel Developer Forum in Beijing.
Chandrasekher was joined by two other Intel executives, Craig Barrett and Pat Gelsinger, whose keynotes focused on the company's directions for the next year and beyond. The event, held at the Renaissance Beijing Capital Hotel, was geared toward the Chinese market in support of local innovation and Intel's industry leadership in the region.
During his keynote, titled "Mobility's Next Wave of Growth," Chandrasekher demonstrated the first live demo of Intel's next-generation Atom-based MID platform, codenamed "Moorestown." Chandrasekher provided a sneak peek into the low-power innovation of the platform by showcasing a greater than 10x idle power reduction compared to today's Atom-based platform in a side-by-side demo. This dramatic reduction is made possible through a combination of new power management techniques, a new partition optimised for the MID segments and Intel's Hi-k 45nm manufacturing process.
Due in 2010, the Moorestown platform is comprised of a System on Chip (codenamed "Lincroft") that integrates a 45nm Intel® Atom processor core, graphics, video and memory controller, and a companion input/output (I/O) hub (codenamed "Langwell"). The platform will be accompanied by a new Moblin software version that is optimised to enable the rich, interactive, PC-like Internet experience along with cellular voice capabilities.
Intel also announced two new Atom processors for MIDs: the Z550 and Z515. The Z550 extends the performance of the MID product line to 2GHz with Intel Hyperthreading technology support, setting a new standard for the highest performance processor in the under-3-watt power envelope. The Z515 incorporates the new Intel® Burst Performance Technology (Intel BPT), which enables the processor to run at 1.2GHz when performance is needed in existing small and sleek MID form factors.
These new Atom processors further extend customer choices to enable the best Internet experience in pocketable MIDs. Chandrasekher also announced several new MID designs for the China market.
Discussing Intel Centrino 2-based laptops, Chandrasekher pointed out additional OEMs choosing to include Intel ultra low-voltage processors to create ultra-thin laptop designs that are less than 1 inch thick. While lighter in size and weight, these notebooks still offer great performance and battery life consumers have come to expect. Chandrasekher then described the next-generation processors for laptops based on the Nehalem architecture that will be available in the second half of this year on the "Calpella" platform. These processors will be more powerful then their predecessors by including such technologies as Intel Hyper-Threading Technology and Intel Turbo Boost Technology.
During his keynote, titled "IA: The Intelligent Architecture Investment," Pat Gelsinger, Intel senior vice president and general manager of the Digital Enterprise Group, discussed Intel's latest client, server and embedded product lines, and gave developers an update on the latest programming tools available for the Larrabee architecture.
Intel's complete Intel Architecture future product roadmap was also revealed. Gelsinger said the "Nehalem" microarchitecture has received worldwide acclaim with the Core® i7 processor launch in 2008 and the recent Nehalem-based Xeon 5500 series introduction. The Xeon 5500 series combines the world's leading processor microarchitecture with a new memory and I/O subsystem, QuickPath Interconnects and Intelligent Power Technology to control power consumption.
Gelsinger said Intel and the industry now look to adopting more mainstream PC and laptop versions of the Nehalem microarchitecture, including 32nm manufactured versions with on-processor graphics, as well the multi-socket Nehalem EX server processor, all in production in the second half of 2009. The future Nehalem-EX processor will provide eight cores for the multiprocessor "intelligent server" market.
For embedded computers, Gelsinger discussed a range of recently announced Atom processor solutions with industrial temp for applications such as in-vehicle infotainment and industrial automation. He also disclosed, for the first time ever, the Nehalem-EP based processor (codenamed "Jasper Forest") that is specifically designed to deliver increased compute density and integration required for embedded and storage applications.
Gelsinger also addressed Larrabee, which is Intel's first many-core architecture designed for high throughput applications and features a programmable graphics pipeline that enables developer freedom. The Intel executive discussed availability of a C++ Larrabee Prototype Library and a future parallel programming solution based on "Ct" technology. The first Larrabee discrete graphics products are due in the late 2009/2010 timeframe.
Vision & Leadership Keynote
During the conference's opening keynote, Intel Chairman Craig Barrett described how technology is a tool for improving education, health care, economic development and the environment. He challenged the developer community to use its collective technology expertise to develop solutions that tackle these challenges.
"Nothing beats investing in good people and good ideas," said Barrett, whose conclusions are drawn from observations from trips to more than 30 countries a year. "Public-private collaboration is fundamental in driving solutions that confront global challenges."
Barrett announced that Intel had selected the four winners of the INSPIRE•EMPOWER Challenge he launched last August. The winners will each receive $100,000 to further fund their innovative solutions that apply technology to address unmet needs related to education, health care, economic development and the environment.
The INSPIRE•EMPOWER Challenge winners are: Bibek Chapagain of Winrock International in Kathmandu, Nepal; Daniel Fletcher of the University of California, Berkeley; Eric Morrow of the Maendeleo Foundation in Kampala, Uganda; and Michael Potts of Catholic Relief Services in Nairobi, Kenya. Details on the winning solutions are available at www.intel.com/pressroom.
Intel Developer Forum
IDF spans the worlds of mobility, digital enterprise, digital home and technology and research. The Beijing IDF, as announced in December, was scaled back from a two-day event due to current economic circumstances and business pressures the industry is facing globally. Next up on the IDF schedule is a three-day event in San Francisco, which will be held Sept. 22-24 at Moscone Centre West. Further information is available by visiting http://developer.intel.com/idf.
Intel [NASDAQ: INTC] , the world leader in silicon innovation, develops technologies, products and initiatives to continually advance how people work and live. Additional information about Intel is available at www.intel.com/pressroom and blogs.intel.com.