Intel could match ARM for power this year
Intel is nudging closer to mobile device power levels with this new Atom processor, writes Richard Wilson, editor of Electronics Weekly.
Fabbed on a 45nm process the Z670 processor comes with a 3W power tag. This is a big improvement on earlier Atom processors and moves the mobile processor into ARM territory.
The N450 Atom runs off 6.5W while the dual core N550 Atom runs off 8.5W.
These are netbook processors, but with this latest Atom chip Intel seems to be moving closer to power levels more suitable for mobile devices such as tablets.
Intel’s big rival in the mobile space, the ARM Cortex-A9 processor fabbed on a 40nm process are specified at between 2W and 05W per core depending whether they are running at 2GHz or 800MHz.
The Z670m Atom processor running at 1.66GHz is specified at a 3W power consumption.
The power difference could get smaller over the next 12 months. A 32nm Atom processor, codenamed Cedar Trail, will follow before the end of the year and a 22nm Atom chip is in the pipeline for launch next year.
“We are accelerating the Intel Atom product line to now move faster than Moore’s law, bringing new products to market on three process technologies in the next 3 years,” said Doug Davis, v-p and general manager of the netbook and tablet group at Intel.
Moore’s Law, formulated by Intel founder Gordon Moore, assumes that the number of transistors on a chip doubles approximately every two years.
The 45nm chip, the Z670 Atom processor, previously dubbed Oak Trail, is shipping and will be in its first tablet PCs from Fujitsu and Lenovo by the summer.
The 1.5GHz single core processor will run the full range of mobile operating systems, including Google Android, MeeGo and Windows.
There is 512kbyte of on-chip cache and the processor includes support for 1080p video decode, as well as HDMI. It also supports Adobe Flash.
There are design changes to reduce power consumption these include an enhanced sleep mode to save power during periods of inactivity.
According to Intel, the HD decode engine supports 1080p HD video playback without a big power penalty.
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