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Intel's new Atom chips peak on performance, power consumption

Agam Shah | May 7, 2013
Intel's upcoming Atom chips with new CPU architecture will be up to three times faster and five times more power efficient than their predecessors and break the "myth" that ARM processors are more power efficient, Intel said.

The cores are also flexible on performance and power consumption. CPU cores can be clocked up or shut down if idle. Intel said the flexibility provided by its cores is a better option than ARM's Big.Little, which incorporates different types of CPU cores to meet power and performance needs. Samsung's Exynos 5 Octa eight-core processor incorporates a Big.Little design with four high-power cores for demanding tasks and four low-power cores for tasks MP3 playback and voice calls.

With Intel's chip, no switching would be needed between low-power and high-power cores to meet different performance needs, Kuttanna said. A single Silvermont core can cover different ranges of power and performance, with no algorithms required to switch between cores.

"We can go up and down the range and cover the entire performance range," Kuttanna said. "You don't pay the complexity price."

The new architecture is also able to share power between CPUs, graphics processors and other cores in a chip. Algorithms can also monitor power delivery, thermal and electrical features, and bring power consumption down based on the device type. Tablets and smartphones will also be able to resume from idle mode a lot quicker with new Silvermont features.

Atom chips based on Silvermont will be made using the 22-nanometer process, in which a 3D transistor allows more transistors in a smaller space. The chip will be smaller and more power efficient than the current Atom chips code-named Clover Trail, which are based on the 32-nm process.

Intel is advancing to the 14-nm process later this year, but the company hasn't said when new smartphone and tablet chips based on the process will be released. Intel Atom's chips made using 14-nm manufacturing technology are called "Airmont."

 

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