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Hi-Ho, Silvermont, Away: Intel’s Plan

It means to churn out new Atom chips for the smartphone, tablet, microservers, entry-level laptops, routers & switches & cars

After conceding the first round or two to ARM and its disciples, Intel is going to take another crack at the all-important mobile market hoping to regain its unquestioned hegemony. This is supposed to be it - big guns blazing and all.

This new attempt at performance-per-watt mastery is based on a new microarchitecture called Silvermont that Intel's using to produce a new generation of Atom chips that are supposed to deliver three times the peak performance - or at least the same performance - at roughly a fifth the power of the current Atom processor core.

The performance and energy efficiency come from Intel's new leading-edge 22nm Tri-Gate SoC process.

Intel means to churn out new Atom chips for the smartphone, tablet, microservers, entry-level laptops, routers and switches and cars, promising power without dead batteries.

Merrifield is the name of the dingus for the smartphone. The widget for the tablet is called Bay Trail. Avoton is for those newfangled microservers and Rangeley is for network and communication infrastructure.

The quad-core Bay Trail and Avoton are already sampling.

Intel said there will be Bay Trail tablets out for Christmas that more than double the compute performance of its current tablet Atoms. Variants of the Bay Trail platform will be used in entry laptop and desktop computers.

Avoton and Rangeley are supposed to be out in the second half and Merrifield - the most important by volume - won't ship to customers until the end of the year.

The widgetry can scale to eight cores because of a new multi-core and system fabric architecture that enables greater performance for higher bandwidth, lower latency and more efficient out-of-order support for more balanced and responsive systems.

There are also new IA instructions and technologies to enhance performance, virtualization and security management capabilities. And there's a new intelligent burst technology, low-power C states and a wider dynamic range of operation taking advantage of Intel's 3-D transistors. Intel says Burst Technology 2.0 support for single- and multi-core offers greater responsiveness scaled for power efficiency.

Apparently Intel exceeded its goals with Silvermont. The improved performance and power efficiency come with higher frequencies.

Dadi Perlmutter, Intel's chief product officer, said Silvermont is an "entirely new technology foundation for the future" and that "Intel will accelerate future generations of this low-power microarchitecture on a yearly cadence."

That means that next year Silvermont will give way to the 14nm Airmont microarchitecture.

Intel is also delivering its next-generation 22nm Haswell microarchitecture for Core processors to enable full-PC performance at lower power levels for mobile devices that should be out later this year. Intel plans to refresh the Xeon line across the data center on 22nm technology, delivering better performance-per-watt and other features.

From what Reuters says, don't expect Intel to support Long Term Evolution, or LTE in its chips. Its efforts have reportedly been delayed.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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