Intel Reveals Third-Generation Atom Platform; Systems To Ship In 2012

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News Posted: Wed, Dec 28 2011 10:12 PM
Waiting for CES 2012 to hear Intel reveal something new? No need. The company just announced the first major development in the life of their Atom line in a really, really long time, and now that netbooks are on the down swing, it's understandable to not hear so much about them. One thing that Intel has always fought is heat and energy usage, particularly with Atom, and the netbooks that we've reviewed in the past with that platform never seemed to blow us away. But Atom is getting another shot, with the third-generation Atom introducing new features for low-power designs such as netbooks, retail and healthcare IT devices.

There's an improvement in battery life of around 20% compared to prior generations, with Intel claiming that machines based on this will get up to 10 hours of battery life, weeks of standby and full 1080p high-definition video. Systems using new Intel Atom processor-based platform from Acer, Asus, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, and Toshiba will debut in early 2012.


The new design's dedicated media engine enables full 1080p high-definition playback of videos and Blu-Ray content and includes additional digital display and output options including HDMI and DisplayPort. The integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3600/3650 combined with the integrated memory controller provides enhanced performance and system responsiveness, including an improvement in graphics performance up to 2X compared to the previous generation platform. It's built using their 32nm process technology, and there's also Rapid Smart Technology to resume from standby mode and helps conserve battery life.

Furthermore, Intel's Wireless Display is supported now, and in addition to the mobile processors, Intel offers the Intel Atom processor D2500 and D2700 for entry-level desktop and all-in-one designs, as well as intelligent system solutions. The platform supports a range of operating systems including: Windows, MeeGo, and Tizen.We've got a hunch that those partners will indeed be using CES to launch systems based on the new Atom, but only the benchmarks will tell if they're worth paying attention to.
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RMedley replied on Thu, Dec 29 2011 8:46 AM

Atom to me has always been a let down really. I do not see how Intel of all the companies can not build a system that will compete on the up side with the 1.2 Ghz dual core processor in my Sensation. The processor in my Sensation is not even top of the line any more really, and it has been proven multiple times it can reliably be oc'd to 1.5 Ghz as well with no real impact on the chips life span. However; Intel of all the companies, in all reality has nothing to compete with it, and quad core version of this chip and others in the same platform from Nvidia, Samsung, etc etc are also available for development now and will be announced at CES with commercial release dates.

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JDiaz replied on Thu, Dec 29 2011 8:56 PM

Uh, sorry but that's way off, you can't compare number of processors and clock speed for different architecture and expect direct comparison. Never mind that both ARM and Intel have yet to have enough overlap to even start competing. Neither ARM nor Intel have anything that directly competes with the other yet!

Intel ATOM's may be low power and low cost but they're still capable of running a desktop OS and fulfilling the basic needs of a PC.

Fact is ARM is designed for low power usage, they're more energy efficient but only the next gen ARM processors are actually starting to actually rival Intel ATOM level CPU performance. You're 1.2GHz dual core ARM chip doesn't even compare and was never intended to run a desktop OS.

Even if it could it would be sluggish compared to even a netbook and isn't compatible with the same range of software. Just look up attempts at running linux on ARM systems to get a better idea. Besides, it would kill the battery trying as desktop OS isn't optimized for power efficiency like mobile OS are and that would negate much of the energy efficiency advantage ARM would otherwise have.

So you're comparing apples and oranges at the moment. Intel ATOM's aren't ready to enter the mobile market and ARM still has a bit to go before it can expand beyond the mobile market.

Both ARM and Intel are moving towards eventual direct competition but that's only starting with their next gen releases. Intel's Medfield ATOM series for example may actually get put into a Smart Phone next year but it's just their first SoC and they got better designs coming after it, just like ARM has better chips coming out after next year too.

Besides, Intel has some time as ARM still lacks a mainstream desktop OS to offer and Windows 8 is delayed till mid 2013. So you'll only be able to run both Android and Windows 8 on x86 systems till then.

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realneil replied on Thu, Dec 29 2011 11:15 PM

A better net book would be cool stuff. My son's MSI Wind was nice to mess with, and that is two and a half years old.

I liked it enough to consider buying one, and then I had to spend money elsewhere. Sad

So new, better Net-books are attractive to me at this point. I'll be looking for reviews,.......And a Net-Book doesn't have to be a screaming powerhouse of a PC, it just has to do the simple stuff, and be able to play a movie if I want to use it for that.

Dogs are great judges of character, and if your dog doesn't like somebody being around, you shouldn't trust them.

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JDiaz replied on Fri, Dec 30 2011 4:43 PM

Basic road map is Cedar Trail systems will be coming out in the beginning of 2012, by the second half of 2012 Clover Trail will replace Oak Trail and bring the whole ATOM line to 32nm.

Medfield is the first SoC ATOM and like Cedar Trail is 32nm.

The first big update will be the 22nm Silvermont in 2013, which will be quickly followed by 14nm Airmont in 2014.

Cedar Trail is still part of Intel's original 5 year product cycle. So it's not a significant update but adds enough to keep netbooks relevant for a little while longer. It's just a question of whether netbooks can hold on till Silvermont provides the first real major update and officially switches the ATOM to the new 2 year product cycle, which means Intel will start putting their latest tech into ATOM's and not just their high end chips.

Thing to watch out for now is how Intel handles the driver support for the new GMA. Since it's based on the Imagination PowerVR GPU, just like the older GMA 500 that had so many issues with proper driver support.

Though the newer 3600/3650 GMA's are based on the slightly better SGX545 instead of the old SGX535 and driver support for PowerVR chips are supposedly much better now with the company no longer against open source driver development. Intel though did delay the Cedar Trail release to work a bit longer on the drivers.

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