Intel Ramps Up "Inadequate" Atom Roadmap

If we're going by market share numbers alone, then Intel rules the desktop world, and all but owns the netbook and nettop landscapes. But when it comes to mobile handheld devices like smartphones and tablets, well, ARM is the one flexing its muscle. It's no secret that Intel wants to make its presence known in this space, but how can it compete with an already established platform that's kicking tail and taking names?

Simply put, Intel's off to the races with an expedited Atom roadmap. The Santa Clara chip maker pretty much put the world on notice that it's coming, and in a big way.

"We decided, looking forward, that our roadmap was inadequate," Intel CEO Paul Otellini said Tuesday during the company's financial analyst meeting.

According to Otellini, Intel is shifting its design goals to lower the midpoint in power consumption, which today is 35 to 40 watts. That's fine and dandy for notebooks, but not so great for tablets and smartphones. The new midpoint, if everything goes to plan, will be 15 watts, Otellini said.

Going forward, watch for Intel to bring out 32nm Atom processors, codenamed Saltwell, in 2011 or 2012, with 22nm Silvermont chips due out in 2013. One year after that -- or just three years from today -- Intel plans to launch a 14nm Atom processor currently codenamed Airmont.

This is a departure in strategy for Intel, which has been following a tick-tock schedule. But with this new accelerated roadmap in place, Intel will keep pace with a fast moving mobile world by releasing new designs with each node.

In related news, Intel also announced its intentions of unveiling at least 10 tablets built around its Atom platform at this year's Computex trade show. By the end of the year, Intel reckons there will be more than 35 Atom-based tablets in the wild.