It seems Intel’s on a roll. Just last week, we were introduced to ‘Iris’, the IGP found in the company’s upcoming “Haswell” processors, and today, we learn about its upcoming 22nm Atom SoCs, sporting a brand-new architecture. With Haswell and Silvermont en route, Intel looks to have both the desktop and mobile spaces safely covered.
Since its introduction in 2008, Atom’s design has fundamentally remained the same. The major enhancements seen were the introduction of dual-core models and a shrinking of the die process. But with Silvermont, the SoC gains tri-gate “3D” transistors (first seen in Ivy Bridge chips), an out-of-order design (finally) and scalability of up to 8 cores – and of course, performance and power improvements, as seen below.
Silvermont splits out into four product-lines: Bay Trail, for tablets; Merrifield, for DIY PCs; Avoton, for micro-server use; and Rangely, for communications. At its launch, Bay Trail will feature 4 cores, which isn’t entirely surprising given Intel’s direct competition in this space also use quad-cores – it’s almost a standard at this point. With Intel’s ability to easily scale up to 8 cores, it looks like the company has more ammo in the chamber for when need arises. For consumers, an eight-core SoC isn’t entirely necessary, but it could become so in the future when things like image editing and video encoding become even more popular on mobile platforms.
What sets Avoton apart from the rest is that it adheres to Intel’s requirements for enterprise processors. It includes error correction and supports the company’s virtualization technologies. “Rangely”, on the other hand, will find itself in devices like routers, switches and security devices.
Avoton and Rangely will be made available in the second-half of this year, while Merrifield will hit before the end of the year. Intel promises Bay Trail to begin shipping during “holiday 2013”, and that being the case, it seems unlikely that we’ll see tablets on the market featuring it until early 2014.
For an in-depth look at what Silvermont brings to the table, I recommend checking out respective articles from our friends at HotHardware and The Tech Report.