The Intel Atom processor will be the name for a new family of low-power processors designed specifically for mobile Internet devices (MIDs) and a new class of simple Internet-centric computers arriving later this year.
Intel also announced the Intel Centrino Atom processor technology brand aimed specifically at mobile Internet devices. It was formerly code-named Menlow.
The Intel Atom processor is based on an entirely new microarchitecture designed specifically for small devices and low power, while maintaining the Intel Core 2 Duo instruction set compatibility consumers are accustomed to when using a standard PC and the Internet. The design also includes support for multiple threads. The chip is expected to run at 1.80GHz or less. All of this on a chip that measures less than 25 square millimeters, making it Intel's smallest and lowest power processor yet. Up to 11 Intel Atom processor die -- the tiny slivers of silicon packed with 47 million transistors each -- would fit in an area the size of an American penny.
Atom joins other Intel brands including Core, Core 2, Celeron, and Xeon, names for other processors the Santa Clara, California-based company makes and sells.
Centrino Atom includes the Intel Atom processor, a low power companion chip with integrated graphics, a wireless radio, as well as thinner and lighter designs.
These new chips, previously codenamed Silverthorne and Diamondville, will be manufactured on Intel's 45nm process with hi-k metal gate technology. The chips have a thermal design power (TDP) specification in 0.6-2.5 watt range and scale to 1.8GHz speeds depending on customer need. By comparison, today's mainstream mobile Core 2 Duo processors have a TDP in the 35-watt range.
"This is our smallest processor built with the world's smallest transistors," said Intel Executive Vice President and Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Sean Maloney. "This small wonder is a fundamental new shift in design, small yet powerful enough to enable a big Internet experience on these new devices. We believe it will unleash new innovation across the industry."
In addition to the MID opportunity, Intel believes the demand for a new category of low-cost, Internet-centric mobile computing devices dubbed "netbooks" and basic Internet-centric desktop PCs dubbed "nettops," will grow substantially over the next several years. The Intel Atom processor is perfectly suited to meet these new market segments.
Intel said the Intel Atom processor also has potential for future revenue opportunities in consumer electronic devices, embedded applications and thin clients.