Asus Eee PC1005PE, Atom N450 Pinetrail Launch

Intel Pinetrail Architectural Overview

Intel is big on code names for their CPU and platform architectures and below we have a high level overview of Intel's Pinetrail platform that is driven by the Pineview processor, aka Atom N450.  So let's get these code names straight from the get-go;  again the platform is "Pinetrail" and the processor itself is "Pineview".  This new platform takes the previous generation Intel Atom system architecture from a three chip solution (CPU, Northbridge with integrated graphics, and Southbridge), to a two chip solution, with both the system memory controller and graphics blocks now resident on the processor die itself.

Intel Pinetrail Platform and Atom N450 Processor


The integration strategy taken here with Atom is very much the same approach that Intel has taken for their forthcoming Arrandale processor for notebooks with Core i5 and Core i3 processor cores.  However, for Atom the memory and graphics blocks are significantly scaled down to maintain the required power envelope.  With Pineview, the graphics core is a basic DX9 instantiation that is a kin to Intel's GMA500 graphics core in the previous generation Intel  945G chipset.  The memory controller is a single channel solution capable of supporting up to two SODIMM sockets with DDR2 support.  This is an on-chip memory controller now, which will offer lower latency characteristics versus the Northbridge implementation of old.  In addition, Intel has done away with the front side bus on the chip much like their Core iX architecture, and dropped in their serial DMI (Direct Media Interface) link to the NM10 Southbridge IO hub.  The new NM10 Atom Southbridge offers the traditional complement of SATA, USB and HD Audio support, in addition to a PCI Express fanout to optional peripherals like WiFi, LAN, WiMax or even an HD Video decoder.

Beyond netbooks, Intel is also positioning their new integrated Atom line-up for entry-level desktops as well, otherwise known as nettops.  In addition to the N450, the Atom D410 variant offers the same single-core design (with HyperThreading) but takes system memory speeds up to  800MHz.  The Atom D510 is a dual-core design with 1MB of L2 cache and DDR2-800 speeds as well.  What's perhaps most impressive is that the entire line of processors runs within a thermal design power rating of  5.5W to a max of 13 Watts.  It seems almost inevitable that we should see various OEMs offering other types of thin-and-light notebooks or netbooks based on the dual-core Atom D510 as well.

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