Intel’s Atom processors have seen tremendous success in the netbook sector and in low power desktops and HTPCs. However, their performance has always left something to be desired. With AMD recently launching their competitive low power E-350 processor, new details have emerged of Intel’s next-generation Atom processor codenamed Silvermont.
According to AnandTech, Silvermont is a complete redesign of the Atom architecture and brings the Atom line closer to the 2 year tick-tock development strategy Intel has utilized for its high performance desktop and mobile processors.
Silvermont is expected to be an out-of-order (OoO) architecture which in itself should provide a tremendous performance boost over the current in-order Atom lineup. However, developing an OoO architecture requires far more hardware complexity which results in higher power requirements. Therefore, Intel will be utilizing their recently announced 22nm 3D tri-gate transistor technology to manufacture Silvermont. Intel will be able to build the chip at a quarter of the size of the current 45nm Atom processors. This should allow them to add the necessary complexity to increase performance while maintaining or lowering power requirements.
Intel expects to launch Silvermont in 2013 (5 years after the original Atom was released) which gives them time to hammer out any issues with their 22nm process technology which will be debuting with Ivy Bridge (the successor to Sandy Bridge) at the end of the year. With the highly likely possibility of quad core variants of Silvermont, Intel should have a significant advantage over its competitors in performance and manufacturing. This might also give Intel the edge in the future in the smartphone market, an area where they have been struggling to find a foothold.Further reading: Atom, Intel