Intel's new Silvermont architecture offers greater performance using less power
By Darren Quick
May 6, 2013
ARM is currently king of the hill when it comes to mobile devices, with ARM architecture the basis of processors and systems on a chip (SoC) including Qualcomm’s Snapdragon, NVIDIA’s Tegra, Texas Instruments’ OMAP, the CORTEX series and Apple System on Chips found in iPhones and iPads. It’s obviously not a situation Intel is happy with and the company has high hopes that its new Atom chip design called Silvermont will help change the mobile silicon landscape.
Manufactured using Intel’s 22 nm SoC process and boasting its 3-D Tri-Gate transistors, Intel says its Silvermont architecture provides three times the peak performance of current-generation Atom processors, or the same performance using a fifth of the power.
As well as being targeted at mobile devices, such as smartphones, tablets, entry level laptops and in-vehicle infotainment systems, the power-sipping Silvermont design is also aimed at microservers and network and communication infrastructure devices.
Delivering what Intel calls an industry-leading performance per-watt efficiency, the Silvermont microarchitecture boasts a new out-of-order execution engine, a new multi-core system that is scalable up to eight cores, support for power sharing between CPU cores and GPUs, and hardware management of burst frequency based on thermal, electrical and power delivery constraints.
Silvermont-based products will start appearing in the second half of the year, with “Avoton” headed for microservers and data centers, and “Rangeley” aimed at entry- to mid-range routers, switches and security appliances. Also due to ship by the end of the year is “Merrifield,” which is aimed at high-end smartphones, and the quad-core “Bay Trail” SoC, which will power tablets and entry laptop and desktop computers.
With the mobile computing landscape evolving at a rate of knots, it’s not surprising to learn that Silvermont is the first in a family of cores that Intel will refresh every year.