Gadi Singer, Vice President of Intel’s Mobility Group, and Doug Davis, Vice President of Intel’s Digital Enterprise Group, held a conference call today to discuss a brand new product line from Intel targeted at security, storage, communications, and industrial applications, the Intel EP80579 Integrated Processor family.
Although the Intel EP80579 branding will be new to most of you, the underlying technology is comprised of products that have a well established history at Intel. In fact, this line of products is based on the Pentium M processor core, as it has been in development for quite some time now. The Intel EP80579 Integrated Processor family, however, is more than just a new processor. The products actually consist of new System on a Chip designs that integrate a Pentium M core, with a Memory Controller Hub (MCH), I/O hub (ICH), and in some cases specialized security, TDM, and data path acceleration engines, which have been dubbed Intel QuickAssist Technology.
Development was started on the Intel EP80579 Integrated Processor family to prepare the company for the impending onslaught of smart, Internet-connected devices and appliances predicted to arrive over the next few years. The Intel EP80579 product line puts Intel in a position to target several growth areas across Consumer Electronics (CE), Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) and other embedded markets. "We’re now able to deliver more highly integrated products ranging from industrial robotics and in-car infotainment systems to set-top boxes, MIDs and other devices. By designing more complex systems onto smaller chips, Intel will scale the performance, functionality and software compatibility of IA while controlling the overall power, cost and size requirements to better meet respective market needs,” said Gadi Singer.
In addition to lower-power characteristics and the smaller form factors enabled by the Intel EP80579's integrated design (in some cases, Intel claims they will lead to platforms that have a 45% smaller board footprint and 34% lower power dissipation), the main benefit of this product line is its native support of Intel Architecture (IA), aka x86. As we stated in our initial coverage of Intel's Atom processor, manufactures of today's smart phones, set top boxes, and MIDs, and software developers, must contend with incompatibilities between the many different platforms being used today. Should these devices all use IA, however, developing software for them would be much easier and application compatibility could be maintained across multiple devices. The slides above illustrate much of what we have outlined here and further explain Intel's strategy and direction.
The individual components within the Intel EP80579 SoCs communicate over an internal Front Side Bus that connects the Processor Core, MCH, and ICH. And Intel has also developed a high performance bus to connect the security, TDM, and data path acceleration engines to the I/O Complex. Please note, that only four of the initial eight products being announced today feature the Acceleration Services Unit and TDM interface represented in the block diagram above. Those features are what make up the Intel QuickAssist Technology, which isn't featured on every Intel EP80579 SoC.
Intel EP80579 Integrated Processor with Intel QuickAssist Technology*
Intel EP80579 Integrated Processor for Embedded Computing
The eight individual products that will initially make up the Intel EP80579 Integrated Processor family are listed in the charts above. As you can see the products will be offered in a range of speeds, power dissipation, and commercial / industrial temperature options.
In addition to the products Intel spoke about today, the company also disclosed that they have more than 15 SoC projects currently planned internally--many of which are built around the Atom core-- including the company’s first Consumer Electronics (CE) chip codenamed “Canmore”, which is scheduled for introduction later this year, and the second-generation “Sodaville” which should hit sometime in 2009. As we've mentioned in previous articles, Intel’s second-generation embedded product line is slated to arrive in 2009 as well, with the company's next-gen platform for Mobile Internet Devices code-named “Moorestown”.
Regardless of all of the codenames and announcements though, what all of this means to consumers is that Intel is obviously focused on securing design wins in virtually any type of device that connects to the Internet or runs software and we may not be too far off from pocket-sized MIDs that can run off the shelf OSes and applications, just like our desktop PCs.
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