The second-gen Atom platform and Z600-series ‘system on a chip’ processors sees Intel step onto ARM’s turf as it chases the non-PC market.
Intel goes from alpha-dog to underdog today with its release of the Atom ‘Moorestown’ platform to face off an army of ARM processors in the smartphone, smartbook and slate space.
The ARM architecture holds the same dominance in this non-PC space as Intel enjoys in the land of desktops, laptops and netbooks.
But with the radical Moorestown design, which Intel claims draws a fraction of
the power needed by the first-gen Atom, Intel hopes to see its x86 architecture take off on the back of the booming mobility market.
Moorestown’s Atom Z600-class processor (shown slightly larger than life) is a complete SoC design
Central to Moorestown is the new Atom Z600 line of processors (formerly codenamed Lincroft) which Intel says will scale up to 1.5GHz for “high-end smartphones” and 1.9GHz for “tablets and other handheld designs” with the assistance of a Nehalem-like turbo burst mode.
The Z600 is a complete ‘system on a chip’ package with a 45nm data core, integrated graphics and video encode-decode plus memory and display controllers.
A separate platform controller hub takes care of the I/O while a ‘Mixed Signal IC’ handles power delivery and battery charging.
Out of the box Moorestown is good for 1080p HD playback, Wi-Fi and 3G as well as WiMAX. Supported operating systems include Android and MeeGo.
Now the long march begins for Intel as it gets a small taste of how AMD must feel – only a thousand times worse because at least AMD uses the same x86 PC architecture as Intel.
With Moorestown Intel is entering a half-run marathon from a standing start, and it knows it. But competition is always A Good Thing and there’s certain to be a lot to come in the way of Moorestown-based devices as 2010 rolls on.