Posts Tagged ‘ atom ’ – Who’ll provide the power behind the mainstream business tablet? – Who’ll provide the power behind the mainstream business tablet?.

I recently got An iPad to try as part of our analysis work on the Apple tablet, and it is becoming apparent to me that devices of this class will grow to be as popular as the current crop of e-mail-enabled smartphones.

Today we all carry our BlackBerries from meeting to meeting. Soon we’ll be

toting far more powerful devices-ones that will be at home in the netbook’s current market space while also performing some of the tasks now assigned to laptops.

The emerging platforms-including tablets that can be docked to a keyboard and clamshell designs with two screens, such as the MSI prototypes demonstrated at the International Consumer Electronics Show-promise to revolutionize electronic support of collaborative work.

Several questions about these devices come to mind. Who will own the major sockets once tablets enter the mainstream? Whose CPU will be the go-to processor for powering such a device-will it be Intel’s Atom, or will ARM find its cores in use? Which companies and technologies should we be watching?

When I got the iPad, Acer’s Aspire One netbook had already been collecting dust in my desk drawer for more than a year. I had never made good use of the Acer netbook; the screen felt small and clumsy, with its Windows panels and other accessories, and even for casual Web browsing, I preferred my larger laptop.

The iPad manages screen real estate much more carefully. The ability to rotate the screen to find the right orientation for the task at hand is a great feature; combined with Apple’s famous interface to pan and zoom via touchscreen finger gestures, it allows me to browse almost as comfortably as I can when using my 24-inch desktop monitor.

But would the iPad have enough power to enable me to work with business applications, which nowadays are predominantly Web-based? To determine this, I ran some software-based system testing.

I first pointed the iPad to the well-known SunSpider JavaScript benchmark, a test designed to measure a browser’s JavaScript execution performance. The tablet executed the test in 10.2 seconds.

I then ran the same test on the Aspire One, and the result was 20.7 seconds. Disappointing, considering that the Atom N270 used n the Aspire One is still found in plenty of netbooks, and, according to, the modern Z and N series CPUs for netbooks and mobile Internet devices are pretty much comparable to the N270.

Next, I ran Google’s V8 test suite and got an even bigger difference.

Whereas SunSpider code measures the cumulative time to run the test, the Google V8 test suite computes the inverse of the geometric mean of multiple test components. Essentially, the SunSpider test measures “how slow,” while the Google V8 test measures “how fast.” For the V8 test, the more points, the better. The iPad scored 97.8 points and the Aspire One a mere 21.6.

The intimal tests on the Aspire One were done using the default Microsoft Internet Explorer browser. I subsequently installed Apple’s Safari on the Acer device, and the netbook sped up like a Ferrari: The SunSpider test took a mere 2.8 seconds, and Google V8 scored 446 points.

At the end of the day, the Aspire One is more than four times faster than the iPad, provided you change the default IE browser to Safari or something comparable; otherwise, the Acer netbook is two times slower than the Apple tablet.

Considering both benchmarking results and the browsing experience, the Atom-powered netbook with default IE8 has severe performance limitations when using rich Web applications, while the ARM-powered iPad is quite adequate with Safari. The Atom processor’s speed advantage seems to be lost as soon as you run certain Microsoft software on it (.net and IE).

Indeed, for Web applications the IE engine is substantially slower than virtually anything else on the market. Microsoft has promised to improve the speed in IE9. But the increase might come at the expense of other features, such as security.

I also ported Netlib’s Whetstone and Dhrystone to the iPhone software development kit and to Microsoft Visual Studio. For the Microsoft platform, I compiled them both into .net and native code. Dhrystone is a fixed-point test; Whetstone focuses on floating-point. In modern computing, serious number crunching ought to be done in optimized primitives libraries (vector operations, compression, image and voice coding, BLAS, cryptography, XML parsing, regular expression parsing and the like), so I used single precision for the Whetstone test. The results are shown in the table below.

An interesting benchmark published in IEEE Journal suggests the recent ARM-based Tegra 2 outperforms recent Atoms.

Benchmarking is good, but today two things matter more in terms of performance: the speed of primitives, and the speed of bytecode (potentially, JITcompiled) written in Java, C#, Python, Perl or Flash (increasingly used to drive business logic and tie together primitives in multimedia application and games).

The Apple SDK provides for native, noninterpreted code using a rapid application development (RAD) environment, whereas on most other platforms (Android, Windows, webOS, Google applications), RAD normally involves some sort of bytecode. The two noticeable exceptions are the QT library, currently owned by Nokia, and Apple’s SDK. This is why code compiled in Apple’s RAD tool outperforms code produced by Microsoft’s RAD tool.

Nonetheless, my feeling is that bytecode will still be the choice for the majority of business logic. It will be interesting to compare the performance of the ThumbEE/Jazelle-enabled ARM platform with a recent Atom for Java and .net (for Atom only). I believe that ARM received a major competitive advantage through its years of work on bytecode acceleration (Jazelle) and JIT execution (ThumbEE).

On the primitives side, Intel’s open-source OpenCV and threading building blocks are widely used. Intel has the outstanding Integrated Performance Primitives, Math Kernel Libraryand XML Parsing Accelerator, but the blocks are not part of any popular development platform; each must be purchased separately.

When we develop for the Intel platform, we want the code to be compatible not only with Intel processors, but with others (such as those from AMD and Via Technologies) as well. In order to leverage the platform fully, Intel or and Microsoft must take the lead, standardize an accelerated primitives API across IA-32/IA-64 platforms and make sure that it is available in all deployments and development tools.

The only primitives library for ARM that I am aware of is Accelerate, from the upcoming Apple iPhone SDK 4.0. In my view, ARM has a small-investment/big-payout opportunity. It can provide the development community with a comprehensive set of accelerated primitives, aligned with different levels of ARM CPUs currently deployed.

Further, ARM should play a more active role in the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) project, which is essential for the ARM development ecosystem.

The sooner ARM realizes that it needs to cater not just to the OEMs that license its cores but to the development community and tool-chain ecosystem at large, the faster it can protect its “phone and below” market dominance while expanding toward mobile Internet devices and tablets.

At this point, it is hard to predict whether ARM or Intel will prevail in powering the mainstream tablet market. In addition to performance and power consumption, business factors as well as the overall ecosystem are going to play a substantial role in the outcome.

I believe both ARM and Intel should give more focus to the overall ecosystem (accelerated primitives, effective compilers capable of using extended instruction sets, standard APIs for power management, multicore performance) if they hope to fully leverage the technologies already implemented in silicon.


iPad will not replace blackberry, as tablet like iPad lacks one key feature. Pocketability.  If you cannot pocket, you’ll not carry along. iPad in blackberry size means iPhone or Android smartphone. Maybe future business fashion embraces extra large pocket on belly to “pocket” iPad.

iPad, however, could replace netbook. What I noticed though these days is that clamshell type is actually more convenient sometimes.  Sleek design combining clamshell and tablet would be ideal for me.

For those devices that replace netbook and possibly work with main laptop for business use, Wintel will win in this domain. I don’t want to  buy all separate software for my office documents.

If MS certifies ARM that window can function perfectly on ARM, then it would be different story.

Now Intel works Android. Why not MS work on ARM?


Intel Introduces Ultra-Low-Power Processor for Smartphones | Gadget Lab |

Intel Introduces Ultra-Low-Power Processor for Smartphones | Gadget Lab |

After a few false starts, Intel is making yet another attempt to get inside smartphones with the launch of a new Atom processor designed specifically for mobile devices.

The chips, codenamed “Moorestown,” will be highly power efficient, while still packing enough computational muscle to enable features such as video conferencing and HD video, says Intel.

“This is our second generation, low-power Atom platform that can exceed our competition in terms of power and performance,” says Anand Chandrasekher, Intel senior vice president and general manager of the Ultra Mobility Group.

The system-on chip package will be based on Intel’s 45-nanometer process and will pack 140 million transistors.

Intel’s chips run the show in netbooks, notebooks and desktop processors, but the company been sidelined in the fast growing smartphone market. Processors based on the rival ARM architecture are in most smartphones today. For instance, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processor, which has an ARM-based CPU, is inside the Google HTC Nexus One phone and HTC’s upcoming EVO 4G phone.

Intel tried its hand in the phone chip business earlier, but in 2006, it sold its XScale ARM-based division to Marvell. More recently, Intel has also tried to pitch its current generation of Atom processors to smartphone makers, but the chips were never accepted because they consumed too much power for phone use.

This time around, Intel says its made major improvements to power efficiency so its Moorestown chips can stand up or even beat the competition in energy efficiency.

“This is the third time Intel is entering the smartphone market,” says Flint Pulskamp, an analyst with IDC. “The difference is this time they realize being inside phones is essential to their long term viability so they are being very aggressive with their design and architecture.”

The Moorestown system-on-a-chip has three parts. The first is an Atom processor that combines the CPU core with 3-D graphics, video encoding, memory and display functions. The second is a controller hub that supports system level tasks. The final piece is a mixed-signal integrated circuit that handles the power delivery and battery charging features.

Together these chips use just 1.75% the power of current Atom chips, in the idle state: Instead of the 1.2 Watts drawn by current Atom CPUs, the new Moorestown chips will draw just 21 milliwatts.

Similarly, Intel is promising 5% the power consumption of current Atom processors, or 115 milliwatts, while browsing the web; and 1/3rd the power consumption while playing video.

These power savings translate into more than 10 days of standby time, up to 2 days of audio playback and four to five hours of browsing and video battery life, says Intel.

“We can generally dynamically detect what the phone is doing and adjust the power consumption,” says Belliappa Kuttanna, the principal architect of Intel’s Atom architecture.

The new Moorestown chip supports clock speeds of up to 1.5 GHz for high-end smartphones (compared to the 1 GHz seen in Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors) and up to 1.9 GHz for tablets and other handheld designs. The chips have been designed for the Android operating system and for Intel’s Moblin OS.

Intel says it is already producing these chips and consumers can expect mobile devices that use Intel chips later this year.

But so far, the company hasn’t announced any smartphone models that will use Moorestown. Earlier this year, the company has demonstrated the use of Atom processors in a phone produced by LG.

Breaking into the smartphone market will be tough for Intel, says IDC’s Pulskamp. Intel will have to compete with companies such as Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, and Infineon, all of which use ARM-based architecture.

“Intel is trying to move step-by-step in the mobile market,” says Pulskamp. “They did well with netbooks and now they are looking at phones. But they are going to face more a challenge in smartphones than they did with netbooks

EEE Journal for Netbooks and Mini Laptops: Benchmarks Atom vs iPad A4 vs iPhone 3GS ARM Cortex and much more…: Netbooks, EEE PC, MSI Wind, Aspire One and Akoya Resources.

EEE Journal for Netbooks and Mini Laptops: Benchmarks Atom vs iPad A4 vs iPhone 3GS ARM Cortex and much more…: Netbooks, EEE PC, MSI Wind, Aspire One and Akoya Resources..

With the iPad, Apple is creating a new type of device that got some similarities with the actual netbooks. It is known that the iPad got an Apple A4 processor clocked at 1GHz, it isn’t clear yet which type of ARM core is really used: Cortex A8, A9, a customized version? It is very interesting to understand how this new processor compare to other ARM processors (ARM11 in iPhone 3G and Cortex A8 in iPhone 3GS) and to the Intel Atom processors.
It is really tough to compare performance of CPU with different architecture, running different operating systems and especially targeting very different applications.
Since years ARM claims superior performance for the Cortex A8 and A9 compared to Intel Atom. Now I could not resist, especially because the benchmarking race started and I finally got a critical mass of benchmarking data on Atom vs ARM performance.

FBenchmark iPad vs iPhone vs Atom netbook CoreMark. Cortex A8 vs Cortex A9 vs Apple A4 vs Intel Atom vs Nvidia Tegra 2irst of all a clarification: here we talk about benchmarking of CPU cores, it has little to do with comparing performance of the iPhone vs iPad or iPad vs netbooks. If you want to compare two devices you have to find first a common use case and metrics to measure it, for example Anandtech published browsing benchmarks showing that ARM Cortex cores in iPhone 3GS and iPad are much slower than Atom in one of the most important use cases: Internet browsing.

The benchmarking ARM vs Atom race started and I finally got a critical mass of benchmarking data: ARM, the Linley group and the german magazine C’t published CoreMark benchmarks for many ARM cores and Intel Atoms.
EEMBC CoreMark is a good metrics of the pure processing power of the CPU core, the algorithm is pretty small and fits in level 1 cache. CoreMark basically replaces the old Million Instruction Per Second (also called as MIPS, not to be exanged with the MIPS company ain direct competition with ARM…)

I created a chart with normalized CoreMark/MHz for each of the result I got.
The result for Atom processors seems stable around 2,5-2,8 CoreMark/MHz, I don’t have a clear bottom line for the Cortex processors. The best results for Cortex A8 and A9 probably derive from tests done in best case conditions in development boards (e.g. for TI OMAP, Freescale i.MX515 and Samsung S5PC110) while real life products (such as iPhone and iPad) got much lower results.
Until the test conditions are clarified is not possible to state who really wins!!

Is Intel’s Atom Splitting Apart the Netbook Market?

Is Intel’s Atom Splitting Apart the Netbook Market?.

Intel reportedly plans to pack more power into its next-generation Atom chips, the line that currently powers netbooks. While some thought the netbook market was a race to the bottom — or at the very least, the low end of the market — Intel is reversing that course by maturing the Atom. The move will further blur the lines between netbooks and notebooks, and could mean the netbook market will disappear as quickly as it arrived.

The Atom line accounts for less of Intel’s overall chip sales than it used to; an upcoming IDC report will reportedly show that in the first quarter of 2010, Atom contributed up to 20.3 percent of the Intel’s processor sales compared to 24.3 percent the prior quarter. Such a drop coincides with slowing netbook sales, the result, in turn, of consumers having a wider variety of device choices, including notebooks, which are entering price levels where once only the lowly netbook dared to tread.

The NPD Group reports the average selling price of a Microsoft Windows notebook was $528 for the 2009 holiday season. That number includes netbooks — which still typically fall into the $350-$450 range — but also premium or specialty notebooks that can cost north of $2,000. While low netbook prices drag down the average selling price of notebooks as a whole, there are plenty of full-featured notebooks available at near-netbook prices of $500 or less. Likewise, some Atom-powered netbooks can be configured with options that boost their price to above $700. There’s more of a pricing overlap now between netbooks and notebooks than ever before, even though the potential for cannibalization of both devices already existed.

This price parity is happening as Intel is beefing up the Atom — unofficially, Intel’s expected new N455 and N475 Atoms will have faster clock speeds and support DDR3 memory, much like today’s notebooks. Instead of a growing capability gab between netbooks and notebooks, the two device classes are becoming more similar. Does that mean there won’t be a netbook market in the future? It could and if so, that would be tragic — there’s still a place for netbooks in my opinion, although some — Steve Rubel comes to mind — can do 80 percent of their work with today’s Apple iPad and there will be more slates coming down the pike later this year.

Intel and computer makers shouldn’t overlook the fact that netbooks can be used in places where a traditional larger computer doesn’t make sense, or if that computer has run out of battery power. As Dave Winer said recently on his blog: “I think the tech industry should give up the belief that netbooks are a temporary thing and fully embrace them and make the work better and better. Ultimately the user is always right, and ultimately always gets what they want.” Maybe he needs to talk to Intel directly — if the trend continues, the split between netbook and notebook could disappear entirely.

Linley Chips In Blog | ARM Outmuscles Atom on Benchmark

Linley Chips In Blog | ARM Outmuscles Atom on Benchmark.

ARM Outmuscles Atom on Benchmark

ARM–and, for that matter, MIPS–CPUs outperform Intel’s Atom, at least as measured by the CoreMark benchmark when normalized for frequency. ARM rates its Cortex-A9 at 2.9 CoreMark per MHz (CM/MHz), whereas Atom running a single instance of the benchmark achieves only 1.8 CM/MHz. In fact, all of the single-thread CPUs profiled in Table 1 (see below) outperform Atom in terms of per-clock performance

The open question, thus, is which CPUs operate at higher frequencies. Atom is fastest running processor of the lot. The Z550 version is available at 2.0GHz, yielding, we estimate CoreMark performance of 3,673CM. ARM promises its A9 hard core will hit 2.0GHz (Vdd will have to be goosed up), putting its performance beyond that of the Z550. Even if ARM hits only 1.3GHz, its performance will exceed that of the fastest Atom. The fastest A9-based chip available now, Nvidia Tegra 2, hits 1.0GHz, putting it behind the garden-variety Atom N280. MIPS rates its 74K at 1.6GHz in a 40nm G process, putting it also ahead of Z550. We are unaware of any 74K-based chips sampling or in production operating in excess of 1GHz, however.

As with any benchmark comparison, caveats abound. A benchmark only reports how fast a given CPU in a given chip runs the specific benchmark when compiled a certain way. Any conclusion about how well any other program will run on the particular chip is a matter of interpretation, as is any comparison among processors unless conditions are identical. Although the scores below are based on use of the GCC complier, the version used varies as does the compile flags selected. The Atom scores, for example, are for CoreMark compiled with GCC 4.4.1 and O2 optimization and were 5.8% faster than runs when GCC4.3.3 were used. The Cortex-A8 score is based on GCC 4.3.3 with O3. With O2 and GCC 4.3.3, the A8 achieves only 2.2 CM/MHz. Despite the variations in compiler and optimization, the overall conclusions are clear: Cortex-A9 and MIPS 74K will outrun Atom on CoreMark. – Six reasons why no one wants an Atom-based SoC – Six reasons why no one wants an Atom-based SoC.

SAN JOSE, Calif. — You would think an x86 core would be a pretty hot item for a system-on-chip design. So why is no one biting on Intel Corp.’s offer last March to sell rights to an Atom core for SoCs made at TSMC?Here’s some armchair speculation. Most of it comes down to one thing—this new SoC model might have some inside Intel a little scared.

1) Intel is charging high royalties

Intel did not make terms of its Atom SoC business publically available when it launched the deal. It’s a new business model for Intel and maybe the processor giant is being a little too greedy—aka fearful—about releasing the crown jewels of its processor designs.

2) Intel has some other nasty business terms

Atom royalties could be in line. After all, the prices ARM charges are probably widely known, so Intel should have a model on which to base its prices.

But I would not be surprised if Intel has a real fear about losing control of its intellectual property. Unlike ARM, Intel has spent years and millions litigating against rivals such as AMD, Cyrix and others who cloned the x86. The processor giant can’t afford to let China Inc. get hold of any proprietary details about its designs.

Thus I suspect there could be some onerous business or legal handcuffs that come with being an Atom licensee. If so, Intel could be scaring off customers.

3) Intel is not providing adequate visibility into its core

Again, fear of having one of its novel x86 designs cloned by rivals may have motivated Intel to keep a tight rein on how much technical detail it discloses about the core. SoC designers won’t want to trust their chip design to a core that isn’t well documented—especially not when there are plenty of alternative cores from ARM, MIPS and others that provide plenty of technical details about their internal plumbing.

4) The design might be a dog

Intel has disclosed no details about the Atom core it is making available through TSMC. Maybe it is some sort of step-child of the Atom cores Intel itself markets. The theory that Intel fears making its best IP openly available comes into play here, too.

The TSMC core could suck too much power. Even Intel’s Atom cores are power hogs compared to ARM cores in the same general neighborhood of performance, demanding a Watt or two where ARM might use a couple hundred milliwatts.

There could also be performance problems. Intel is gifted at cranking out processor designs when it owns the process technology they are made in. It is less skilled in designing for someone else’s standard foundry process—and it likely does not have its best design engineers on the task.

5) No one wants to go first

If I just got my $15 million in VC or corporate funding to do a new SoC design, I may not want to risk blowing the money on a brand new core just ported to a new process technology, provided by a large and paranoid company for whom the IP business is a new experiment.

No, I think I’d prefer a proven core and process and a core provider who has been in the game awhile.

6) Intel doesn’t know how to sell processor cores

Perhaps the PC processor giant just doesn’t know how to sell this stuff? The simple fix would be to hire a handful of enterprising ARM sales and application engineers.

Whatever the problems really are, I suspect they can be solved—if Intel really wants to be in this business. The x86 has a long history in PC and embedded markets. There are bazillions of apps, tools and peripherals for it.

Such a rich eco-system should attract a lively SoC business, if Intel has the will to do what it needs to do to become a solid silicon IP provider. Time will tell if that’s really in Intel’s soul, or the company just can’t get beyond its PC processor DNA.

Intel’s “M” to get into Smartphone market

Intel’s Atom based application processor for smartphone application

Intel has enjoyed significant market share in Netbook market using Atom chip. Atom used to be stand-alone CPU core at the beginning, but now it is incorporated with GPU and memory controller together targeting for smartphone.

At 2010 CES, LG showed Atom based smartphone (model GW990). The application processor used in this phone is a platform called “Moorestown”.  Moorestown is an SOC including CPU, GPU, memory and wireless connection capability (WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, 3G etc). Moorestown has two big components “Lincroft” and “Langwell”.

subsystem comments Fab/Tech
(CPU core)
SOC of following blocks
Atom CPU processor (similar to SIlverthone)
Graphic, video engine
Memory and display controller
Intel 45nm SOC
I/O connectivity block (various PHY)
USB controller, ATA, MIPI port, NAND controller etc
TSMC 65nm
Uses many TSMC IPs
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS

It’s interesting to note that Langwell is manufactured at TSMC (, while high performance Lincroft is made in-house.

Moorestown platform

Moorestown is using 45nm Intel technology


Above picture shows actual Moorstown platform. It’s about half of size of credit card, including much smaller Lincroft and Langwell.

Intel Moorestown

Next generation of Intel’s smartphone application process is called Medfield using 32nm technology.

Intel is taking a graduated approach to the smartphone market: the ultimate target is the mainstream smartphone

Medfield powered smartphone is slated at 2011.

BTW, isn’t it interesting all those three chips start “M”? Maybe finally intel folks start to get confused by so many code name, so make some hint using same “M” for …maybe “mobile”?

Even intel’s mobile OS has a name “M”oblin..^^;;

Here is some more details for 32nm “M”.

Process Integration
Moorestown 45nm Two chip solution using SiP technology
Medfield 32nm Singlechip solution (complete SOC)

Medfield is known to be one chip solution using SOC technology. It’s not clear how Intel put TSMC’s IPs (IO portion) in the chip.

In general, smartphone area is a lot more competitive than netbook or notebook. It’s not surprising that the most important feature is the low cost. Intel has not been used to this kind of game.. It’s interesting to see how intel compete in this environment.

Intel became household name even though component company as a result of  hugely sucessful “intel inside” campaign. This has given intel a significant customer recognition advantage that actually differentiates the end product. One of important decision factor for consumer to buy computer is which CPU is used in the computer.  Not sure whether Intel will put “intel inside” sticker on cell phone, though. The most important performance feature in smartphone is and will be quality of voice, and this is largely dependent on carrier and modem, not really CPU.

Intel also needs to come up with a solution of smaller form-factor for the sticker. Maybe just big “M” logo is enough?