Intel unveils new 'Silvermont' generation of mobile chips

Intel took the wraps off its newest generation of Atom-based mobile processors, code-named Silvermont, and said the chips based on the new architecture will delivers three times more peak performance or the same performance while consuming around five times less power than its existing Atom chips. Silvermont represents Intel's latest attempt to catch up in the mobile market. 

The new 22-nanometer Silvermont-based chips use Intel's so-called "tri-gate" 3-D transistor technology, which it first introduced in 2011 for laptops and PCs, and which the company said lets it create smaller and faster processors that can consume less power. The chips are aimed at smartphones and tablets, and Intel said that silicon based on the design will be shipping to customers by the end of the year.

Specifically, Intel said its quad-core "Bay Trail" system on a chip is scheduled to be in tablets this holiday season and will more than double the performance capability of Intel's current-generation tablet offering. Intel also said its "Merrifield" chip is scheduled to ship to customers by the end of this year, and will enable increased performance and battery life over current-generation products. Intel said the chip will also support context-aware services, high-speed wireless connectivity and increased data, device and privacy protection.

"We have not only reduced the power in a significant manner but it comes with significant performance," Dadi Perlmutter, executive vice president and general manager of Intel's mobility group, said at a briefing, according to Reuters.

"Although Silvermont can find its way into everything from cars to servers, the architecture is primarily optimized for use in smartphones and then in tablets, in that order," noted analyst Anand Lal Shimpi on his blog AnandTech.

Incoming Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said he has already sold the company's board on a strategy to accelerate Intel's push into mobile chipsets. Krzanich will take the helm as Intel's sixth CEO on May 16, succeeding Paul Otellini.

In mobile, Intel is trying to catch up to companies that use designs from ARM Holdings, including Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), Nvidia, Samsung Electronics, Broadcom and MediaTek. ZTE, Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Motorola Mobility, Lenovo and others have agreed to use Intel chips, but Intel still trails its peers in mobile design wins. "We've done a lot of work on Android over the past few years," Perlmutter noted, according to AllThingsD. "We've shipped 12 different phones to market."

"I view this as a big occasion," Perlmutter added of Silvermont. "This is not just a small deal."

For more:
- see this release
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Reuters article
- see this AllThingsD article
- see this AnandTech article

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