The battle for ultra-low power x86 capable CPUs is reaching amazing new heights, or perhaps 'lows' is the more appropriate term. Just imagine a CPU that fits in a mobile device, can run Vista, and won't burn your hands or run out of battery power in about 15 seconds.
The first thought is that we must be talking about something a bit on the slow side, right? Perhaps, but by slow we're talking about something in the league of the original Centrino platform performance. That's certainly not going to break any desktop records, but for ultra-portable devices, that kind of performance has only been a fantasy, until Intel announced Silverthorne.
If you've been wondering just how Intel plans to put all that performance into such an efficient package, here's the short answer:
“The 25-mm^2 chip uses a host of power management techniques, including the ability to switch in or out of a new C6 deep-sleep state in just 100 microseconds. Intel redesigned its register files and cache circuits for lower active and standby power, created new I/O power planes and enabled the chip's 533-Mtransfer/second front-side bus with an optional energy-efficient CMOS mode.”
The Silverthorne still isn't going to be powering smartphones, but it's a major step in that direction. If Intel continues to develop this technology, we might see x86 compatible smartphones in only a few years.