Intel’s Atom cores have caught a lot of guff, mainly thanks to bad memories of the netbook days. But its latest incarnation, the new Silvermont CPU architecture, is low-powered and packs a performance punch, positioning Intel to make a big push into mobile.
The 22-nanometer System-on-a-Chip platform boasts a three times performance increase over the previous Saltwell Atom CPUs and at five times less the power consumption thanks in no small part to the 3D transistors Intel’s been cooking up for years now. The first Atom CPUs to be designed specifically for smartphones and tablets, Silvermonts allow for scalablity up to 8-core SoCs, giving the architecture the freedom it needs to fill in the space below Haswell on the device hierarchy with no gaps. Bay-Trail tablets with Silvermont CPUs for brains are due to start rolling out toward the end of this year. Smartphones based on the new architecture will be following in early 2014.
While Silvermont is the first Atom chip aimed squarely at phones and tablets, it’s certainly not going to be the last; Intel’s going to be iterating on this CPU yearly and creeping further and further into the mobile space with each push. It will still be a while before we can actually get our hands on anything Silvermont’s inside, but this could be the start of a much more mobile Intel.