Intel may cater to Apple with system-on-a-chip, dual-core Atom

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Intel's options for Apple and other customers interested in ultra-portable devices are about to expand thanks to the official launch of an all-in-one processor and a dual-core version of its Atom processor.



The semiconductor firm on Thursday revealed the elaborately titled EP80579 Integrated Processor as its first chip to build in every feature of a mobile chipset into one package.



Where the company's earlier technology needs both a discrete processor as well as separate chipsets for video or interfacing with peripherals, the Integrated Processor includes all of this in one component; it's also relatively fast and uses a Pentium M as its main processor with a relatively recent graphics core capable of drawing pixel effects seen in software of recent years.



The component is fast for the system-on-a-chip category, but is more importantly small and a power miser. Compared to a normal system, which would need four chips to achieve the same effect, the Integrated Processor's mainboard takes up about 45 percent less space and is 34 percent more power-efficient, chewing up as little as 11 watts for the entire design.



In contrast to Atom, which in its present incarnation is too large for most small devices, the new chip is expressly meant for the embedded market and runs at very low speeds which peak at 1.2GHz. That can include commercial and industrial applications but is also tailored for very consumer-friendly Mobile Internet Devices that double as portable media players and Internet communicators.



Whether this is immediately useful to Apple is far from a certainty, as the power use is too high for an iPhone-sized device but offers too little performance for its current notebook range. Nonetheless, the breakthrough would also apply to set-top boxes and shares the same processor core as the Apple TV, which uses an under-clocked Pentium M with a basic dedicated graphics chipset that gives just enough performance to play 720p HD video.



However useful this new invention may be, Apple may have an additional choice in very small processors in as little as two months' time.



A new processor model leak suggests Intel will unveil a 1.6GHz, dual-core variant of its Atom processor on September 21st. The processor will likely be too power-hungry for Apple's planned multi-touch tablet -- consuming a rumored 8W of power just by itself -- but is expected to become the champion of very small budget notebooks with a price tag of just $43 per chip in large batches.



Like the single-core processor already on sale, the dual-core model will use the Hyperthreading technology that first appeared in the Pentium 4 to mirror some of the performance that would normally come from an additional real-world core.



Apple has been shy regarding its own plans, although AppleInsider has exclusively revealed that the Mac maker is likely to become a major supporter of Atom with more than one product scheduled for this year that would be based on the architecture.



Additionally, Intel itself reveals that the two technologies mentioned today will merge as soon as 2009 in Moorestown, a new Atom-based plaform that should be faster and more efficient than the first-generation Integrated Processor and small enough to fit in a smartphone like Apple's iPhone.
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 33
    shanmugamshanmugam Posts: 1,200member
    MacBook Mini (aka NetBook equivalent) on its way with or without Touch ...
  • Reply 2 of 33
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,293member
    Do yourselves a favor and make friends with Intel Engineers. There is nothing about Atom and Apple with the iPhone/iPod or whatever that makes you think will keep Apple from using the IP they gained from PA Semiconductor.
  • Reply 3 of 33
    retroneoretroneo Posts: 240member
    This would be useful for a replacement to the AppleTV. Today's Atom can't come close to the performance of the underclocked Pentium M in the AppleTV. A future Atom would help them build it cheaper and use less power again.



    Not suitable for OS X Leopard, since a dual-core Atom doesn't even equal the performance of today's Intel Celeron line up. (which is much slower than the Pentium dual core, which is way slower than a core 2 duo)



    For handheld type devices, a PA Semi Cortex-A9 Quad Core system on a chip would offer the full performance of a Core Solo Mac mini with quad cores and 250mW peak consumption for the entire system on a chip!



    You are still looking at 8-16x performance per watt gap between future Atoms and currently announced ARM designs...
  • Reply 4 of 33
    kolchakkolchak Posts: 1,398member
    I don't care as long as Apple does something. I want that tablet. My trusty 12" Powerbook is closing on six years old and is getting slow with current apps, especially since it's limited to only 1.13GB of RAM. But I don't want to buy another laptop. I want something that's easier to use when I'm standing up.
  • Reply 5 of 33
    labrats5labrats5 Posts: 17member
    Why does apple have to end up using intel for everything. I just can't understand this obsession. Even when intel does have a chip for the iphone's power envelope, it still probably won't be as good as competing ARM chips. Just because ARM chips basically never make the news doesn't mean they are standing still. Cortex A8 chips will be shipping in phones starting later this year or early next year, and Apple would be foolish not to use them in the next iphone.



    Even if Atom ends up being just as good or better than competing ARM chips, it would still not be the right call the go with intel. The biggest advantage ARM has over its competitors is the ecosystem of dozens of fabs making competing and compatible ARM chips. This drives innovation high and prices low. Any price advantage intel might have would almost certainly be part of a loss leading strategy to gain market share and lock manufacturers into x86. Any such initiative would be short-lived and ultimately detrimental to any device will a software ecosystem and a long term road map like the iphone.



    That's not to say going with intel was wrong for the mac. On the contrary, it might have been their best move ever. The Core lineup wasn't a bit better than the competition: it was leagues better. And nothing comparable to the ARM ecosystem exists for the PC. Nothing even close. But it would be stupid for Apple to think that what worked for the mac will work for the iphone. Locking yourself into one supplier for your devices most important component is almost never a good choice.
  • Reply 6 of 33
    zunxzunx Posts: 620member
    Apple, make something like this (5-inch screen or so) and we will purchase thousands for our University:



    OQO model 2

    http://www.oqo.com



    With Mac OS X inside.

    FireWire

    Ethernet

    Wired and wireless presentation remote for NATIVE Keynote and PowerPoint files.



    Why? Even the MacBook Air is too large and too heavy for us. We need the Mac in the pocket! In the palm!
  • Reply 7 of 33
    pmoeserpmoeser Posts: 79member
    Absolutely

    AppleTV supporting 1080P coming soon...
  • Reply 8 of 33
    futurepastnowfuturepastnow Posts: 1,772member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by retroneo View Post


    Not suitable for OS X Leopard, since a dual-core Atom doesn't even equal the performance of today's Intel Celeron line up. (which is much slower than the Pentium dual core, which is way slower than a core 2 duo)



    Are you kidding? An Atom (or a Celeron, for that matter) has more than enough power for OS X, and for most tasks. Obviously editing video on it would take some patience, but most people never push the limits of their computer's CPU.
  • Reply 9 of 33
    backtomacbacktomac Posts: 4,579member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by FuturePastNow View Post


    Are you kidding? An Atom (or a Celeron, for that matter) has more than enough power for OS X, and for most tasks. Obviously editing video on it would take some patience, but most people never push the limits of their computer's CPU.



    I've mentioned this before but IF snow leopard is lighter and faster then Apple could use it on Atom powered devices to go after the entry level buyer. Think Apple versions of net top and net book.



    Right now Linux is competing with XP on these types of devices. Needless to say OS X would be a very compelling alternative. Based upon what is know about WIn7 (it'll have the same system requirements as Vista), it'll never make it onto such devices.



    It could be a market that Apple could do very well in. While linux is nice it doesn't have the polish of OSX and Xp looks dated to me.
  • Reply 10 of 33
    kolchakkolchak Posts: 1,398member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by FuturePastNow View Post


    Are you kidding? An Atom (or a Celeron, for that matter) has more than enough power for OS X, and for most tasks. Obviously editing video on it would take some patience, but most people never push the limits of their computer's CPU.



    Quite true. I'm running Leopard on my Powerbook, which is the minimum system configuration Apple recommends. I doubt an 867MHz single-core G4 is slower than a dual-core Atom. I'm not sure I'd want to run OS X on a tiny screen like Zunx wants above, though. The 1024x768 screen on the Powerbook is the minimum resolution I'd want when displaying an OS X desktop.
  • Reply 11 of 33
    olternautolternaut Posts: 1,376member
    I want to make this abundantly clear. I DO NOT WANT the upcoming Apple tablet/iphone pro multi-touch product to be ANYTHING LIKE all the other pc based mids/netbooks/tablet PCs that came before it.

    I want Apple to realize (yet again) what the industry is doing wrong and redefine it for them.

    And THAT product I will buy. Just show it to me Steve and you don't even have to show me its functions. It will be an automatic SOLD to me.
  • Reply 12 of 33
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,293member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by FuturePastNow View Post


    Are you kidding? An Atom (or a Celeron, for that matter) has more than enough power for OS X, and for most tasks. Obviously editing video on it would take some patience, but most people never push the limits of their computer's CPU.



    Atom's FSB is upto 533Mhz.



    http://www.intel.com/technology/atom...chitecture.htm



    The Atom processor specs don't remotely touch the specs of the PA Semi chips.



    With that being said, If there is anything that happens it's that Apple will leverage their newly purchased IP heavily into making products that distinguish it from the rest of the general markets and thus not be limited and controlled by Intel on their highest margin products.



    Intel may do it's best to entice Apple into using the Atom, but the chip architecture just doesn't cut it for a roadmap.



    http://www.intel.com/products/proces...tech_iapm+atom



    Quote:

    The Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator 950 provides 3D graphics performance for a good visual computing experience.



    The products going forward will be required to meet the OS X Snow Leopard Specs, leverage the GPU [Grand Central] and OpenCL environments.



    Rethink the Atom option, folks. Better yet, just ask a friend who works for Intel, if you have any there.
  • Reply 13 of 33
    All atoms are less than 45nm. As far as the speed, its all relative, the front end of the bus coming toward you will appear to be faster than the rear end of the bus going away from you. The speed of light is constant unless the ALICE Theory is correct.



    BTW, how fast is 533 Mhz? (in miles/hour or atoms/ns)
  • Reply 14 of 33
    winterspanwinterspan Posts: 605member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by retroneo View Post


    Today's Atom can't come close to the performance of the underclocked Pentium M in the AppleTV. A future Atom would help them build it cheaper and use less power again....



    ....For handheld type devices, a PA Semi Cortex-A9 Quad Core system on a chip would offer the full performance of a Core Solo Mac mini with quad cores and 250mW peak consumption for the entire system on a chip!



    You are still looking at 8-16x performance per watt gap between future Atoms and currently announced ARM designs...



    Exactly. I am NOT AT ALL convinced about the feasibility and competitiveness of Intel Atom. A 2-3 year old 900mhz Celeron M has 2-3X the performance!

    Although we will have to wait until the 45nm System-on-a-chip Atom design is ready to know how competitive it will be, right now I just don't see it. On the Low-end for iPhones and only slightly larger "MID" devices like a 4-5" iPod Touch tablet, The new ARM Cortex designs have PLENTY of power. The Cortex-A9 is an out-of-order architecture, can be had in multi-core versions, and run up to 1.0Ghz! And you can get 2-3X the performance of the current iPhone ARM11 processor in the same power envelope!



    Then on larger "UMPCS" and cheap, mini laptops, they can use Intel's 45nm Celeron M ULV (Ultra-low-voltage) chips running at 900-1100mhz that come in at about 5W. a 1.6-1.8Ghz Atom would most certainly work in this form factor, but it is MUCH SLOWER than even a Celeron M at 900mhz!



    I honestly don't know where non-SoC Atom is going to fit! For dirt-cheap, linux running subnotebooks like the EEPC for developing countries, it's great because it is so small that it is very cheap to produce. But for more expensive retail products, I can't see where it is better than the alternatives, except for low costs sake. This may change with a future system-on-a-chip based Atom that gets down close to the power usage of ARM chips, but I still am skeptical if it will actually be competitive with the new ARM cores.



    What I DON'T want to happen is for Apple to come out with a mini tablet or mini notebook using an Atom because it is dirt cheap for profits sake instead of using a decent ~1.0 ghz Core 2 ULV chip. I don't think they would do that, BUT they are always focused on "thin" and "battery life" more than performance sake. When Steve introduced the Macbook Air, I remember him saying that they didn't go with an 1-1.2Ghz Core 2 ULV chip because they are so much slower than a regular Core 2 Duo 1.6-1.8Ghz chip. Well the ATOM is much slower than that!







    Quote:
    Originally Posted by labrats5 View Post


    Why does apple have to end up using intel for everything. I just can't understand this obsession. Even when intel does have a chip for the iphone's power envelope, it still probably won't be as good as competing ARM chips. Just because ARM chips basically never make the news doesn't mean they are standing still. Cortex A8 chips will be shipping in phones starting later this year or early next year, and Apple would be foolish not to use them in the next iphone.



    Even if Atom ends up being just as good or better than competing ARM chips, it would still not be the right call the go with intel. The biggest advantage ARM has over its competitors is the ecosystem of dozens of fabs making competing and compatible ARM chips. This drives innovation high and prices low. Any price advantage intel might have would almost certainly be part of a loss leading strategy to gain market share and lock manufacturers into x86. Any such initiative would be short-lived and ultimately detrimental to any device will a software ecosystem and a long term road map like the iphone.



    That's not to say going with intel was wrong for the mac. On the contrary, it might have been their best move ever. The Core lineup wasn't a bit better than the competition: it was leagues better. And nothing comparable to the ARM ecosystem exists for the PC. Nothing even close. But it would be stupid for Apple to think that what worked for the mac will work for the iphone. Locking yourself into one supplier for your devices most important component is almost never a good choice.





    Agreed. I want Apple to make decisions based on technical performance, NOT because of industry partenerships. I am skeptical that a 45nm SoC Atom will be able to compete with the performance/watt of an ARM cortex-A8/A9, but we'll have to see.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post


    The Atom processor specs don't remotely touch the specs of the PA Semi chips. With that being said, If there is anything that happens it's that Apple will leverage their newly purchased IP heavily into making products that distinguish it from the rest of the general markets and thus not be limited and controlled by Intel on their highest margin products.

    Intel may do it's best to entice Apple into using the Atom, but the chip architecture just doesn't cut it for a roadmap.



    What PA SEMI chips and IP are you talking about? The POWER chips? I do hope that Apple will leverage PA SEMIs expertise to design new ARM Cortex-based chips for the next iPhone / iPod touch / tablet. That is unless Intel really blows us all away with an updated Atom architecture that can actually compete with ARM, though I highly doubt it.







    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kolchak View Post


    Quite true. I'm running Leopard on my Powerbook, which is the minimum system configuration Apple recommends. I doubt an 867MHz single-core G4 is slower than a dual-core Atom. I'm not sure I'd want to run OS X on a tiny screen like Zunx wants above, though. The 1024x768 screen on the Powerbook is the minimum resolution I'd want when displaying an OS X desktop.



    Actually, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the G4 was twice as fast! Atom, even a dual-core variant, is a very small and simple processor. To put it in perspective, an old 900mhz Celeron M is nearly 50-75% faster than a 1.6Ghz Atom. I sure wouldn't want to run ANY desktop OS on an Atom.
  • Reply 15 of 33
    wmfwmf Posts: 1,164member
    Tolapai is for routers/NAS and Canmore is for STBs. Neither one is for mobile devices. Intel's marketing is either broken or genius.
  • Reply 16 of 33
    retroneoretroneo Posts: 240member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by winterspan View Post


    The Cortex-A9 is an out-of-order architecture, can be had in multi-core versions, and run up to 1.0Ghz! And you can get 2-3X the performance of the current iPhone ARM11 processor in the same power envelope!



    What PA SEMI chips and IP are you talking about? The POWER chips? I do hope that Apple will leverage PA SEMIs expertise to design new ARM Cortex-based chips for the next iPhone / iPod touch / tablet.





    It's pretty much all public knowledge.



    The dudes at PA Semi have experience designing ARM SoCs.

    Intel has announced that Apple's is not planning on using Atom-based devices for this device class.


    Apple has announced they are producing their own SoC in the future for iPhones and iPod touch.

    Apple designed and owned ARM but had to sell ARM off to keep themselves afloat in the late 90s.



    Also think about Grand Central + Cortex multicore (and of course OS X iPhone 3.0 - the iPhone Xcode SDK and kernel are now in sync with the desktop OS).



    Apple had so much foresight in designing the ARM architecture for low power back when desktop chips used only 4W.



    (Apple co-designed with Acorn and together owned ARM)
  • Reply 17 of 33
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by retroneo View Post


    It's pretty much all public knowledge.



    The dudes at PA Semi have experience designing ARM SoCs.

    Intel has announced that Apple's is not planning on using Atom-based devices for this device class.


    Apple has announced they are producing their own SoC in the future for iPhones and iPod touch.

    Apple designed and owned ARM but had to sell ARM off to keep themselves afloat in the late 90s.



    Also think about Grand Central + Cortex multicore (and of course OS X iPhone 3.0 - the iPhone Xcode SDK and kernel are now in sync with the desktop OS).



    Apple had so much foresight in designing the ARM architecture for low power back when desktop chips used only 4W.



    (Apple co-designed with Acorn and together owned ARM)



    I'm actually not sure that's what's happening. To my knowledge Apple doesn't have an ARM license, so they can't legally be designing ARM chips. What is probably going on is that they are co-designing with a partner who already has an ARM license. Most likely Samsung. It may be the case that they are designing something from the ground up, but then don't expect to see anything for another 3 years.
  • Reply 18 of 33
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 1,915member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by labrats5 View Post


    It may be the case that they are designing something from the ground up, but then don't expect to see anything for another 3 years.



    I doubt that will happen. They will probably use the latest ARM core and design their SoC around it. Adding bits and pieces to give their platform an advantage over others using off-the-shelf SoCs. I mean honestly, if these chips go into all iPods and iPhones in the future, they won't have a problem getting costs down. We're talking a scale far beyond what the Macs could ever possibly hope to reach.



    With the release of Snow Leopard (March '09 ???), which of course will make its way into the iPhone OS, Apple's mobile platform will really take off.
  • Reply 19 of 33
    ksecksec Posts: 1,566member
    I dont agree Celeron M has 3x performance of Atom. That is simply not true. Atom is about the same as Celeron M, only it has much lower power usage.



    But i agree with the Cortex A9. It has properly 10x the performance / watt then Atom. And that is with chip manufactures at one generation behind Atom, and less software optimization then x86.



    I have always thought PC are standing still. And Mobile devices are exploding. And as open source spend more time on optimizing software for mobile ( ARM ) world, where it has HUGE base then software for ARM, it will one day catch on in 4 - 5 years time. The questions is if Intel could work its magic during the next 5 years to get an competitive X86 SoC in these space.



    Although all these are still speculation as we have yet seen a Cortex A9 in real world yet. But the CEO of ARM once mention "Why should we be scared of Intel stealing our market, it may work the other way around. " And if Cortex A9 could get 2Ghz+. We could have Apple switching its entire CPU line to ARM.



    iPhone, iPod, and Mac. With Mac may be having a Larabee Graphics parts to handle both x86 only apps and graphics.
  • Reply 20 of 33
    backtomacbacktomac Posts: 4,579member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post


    Intel may do it's best to entice Apple into using the Atom, but the chip architecture just doesn't cut it for a roadmap.



    I tend to agree with you based on what I've read about Atom. However, the guys at Ars (Hruska and Stokes) are pretty convinced that Atom is going to eventually make it to the iPhone and other smart phones.



    One big advantage they cite is the ability to port legacy x86 apps to devices that run or will run on Atom. However it seems to me that in mobile devices this really *isn't* a big advantage because apps ned to be specifically written to run on a mobile device in order to work properly on a mobile device. Are we really going to have a MS office or photoshop shoehorned onto the iPhone?



    If you're a developer and you're writing an iPhone app from scratch is there an advantage of x86 over ARM?
Sign In or Register to comment.