Intel trims clock for Atom launch

Intel has trimmed the peak clock speed of what is to be the first processor to wear the Atom name from an expected 2GHz to 1.8GHz. But it remains the smallest x86-compatible processor the company has ever made. The processor, formerly Silverthorne, has a die size of less than 25mm2 according to the company.

The Atom name will be used for the family of processors that Intel plans for processors that will go into handheld computers. At the instruction-set level, Atom is compatible with the Core 2 Duo, but the Silverthorne is a different processor architecture. The design includes support for multiple threads and will run at up to 1.8GHz: Intel had previously indicated that Silverthorne could run at up to 2.5GHz with a better package or 2GHz in the package that the company had designed for it.

The Atom processors will be manufactured on Intel’s 45nm process with hi-k metal gates. Intel said they will draw between 0.6 and 2.5W, somewhat less than the Core 2 Duo’s 35W.

“This is our smallest processor built with the world’s smallest transistors,” said Intel executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer Sean Maloney. “This small wonder is a fundamental new shift in design, small yet powerful enough to enable a big Internet experience on these new devices. We believe it will unleash new innovation across the industry.”

Intel believes the demand for a new category of low-cost, Internet-centric mobile computing devices dubbed ‘netbooks’ and basic Internet-centric desktop PCs dubbed ‘nettops’, will grow substantially over the next several years. The Intel Atom processor is perfectly suited to meet these new market segments.

Intel said the Intel Atom processor also has potential for future revenue opportunities in consumer electronic devices, embedded applications and thin clients.

Image: The first Atom processor showed to scale with a US penny

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