The Evangelist

Worldwide Technology News

If you are into tech or browse news sites such as Slashdot, you have probably heard of Intel's new Atom Processor. And you probably know that the processor is meant for use in ultra-mobile PCs and other mobile devices, even smartphones.

You might be thinking, "these have existed in the past without the Atom processor, how are things going to be any different?" If so, you are right that both AMD and Intel have had mobile offerings available for a while. However, in these cases the lowest-power chips available from both were used for an application they really weren't originally made for. Also, because they consumed little power and were so small, they were generally underpowered, which made these UMPCs slow. And then there are "Netbooks" and other small laptops that relied on processors like low-powered Intel Pentium-M and, more recently, Core 2 chips to keep their small form factor. And finally there are even smaller devices, such as Smartphones, that use processors not compatible with the x86 instruction set that is standard in Intel and AMD processors which run Windows and standard Linux distributions. One example of this is Nvidia's Tegra, which will supposedly have superior performance to Atom, but will not support the x86 instruction set, and instead be based on the ARM RISC architecture.

This is where Atom comes in. Intel's Atom has a maximum CPU clock of a decent 1.87 GHz (with the lowest clock being 800 MHz), and supports the x86 instruction set. While AMD's Geode processors have supported Windows operating systems and standard software, they are underpowered compared to Intel's Atom.

Now, with Atom, even a smartphone could run the standard applications end-users have gotten used to, not just special versions adapted for a mobile platform, often with less functionality. And there is software that is not available at all for current mobile platforms. Two good examples would be Flash and Java, which can be important parts of the web browsing experience. With Intel Atom, both Flash and Java could run on Windows or Linux on a UMPC or MID (Mobile Internet Device).

Hopefully manufacturers will realize the potential here, and that the companies selling these devices properly market these devices, making sure that consumers know that these devices can do what other mobile devices cannot.

At the same time, I hope that innovation marches on, and that AMD comes up with their own mobile solution to compete with Intel.

In the meanwhile, Intel has unveiled their Centrino 2 Platform. Highlights include an 802.11n-compatible Wireless card.


Intel always seems to do a good job with their chips. I prefer them over any other brand, though AMD chips are a close second. I've been quivering witch companies/devices adopt this chip. Apple? Seems like they could use this little beauty to its full potential.

That's one thing that I considered putting into this article.

With Apple's release of the Macbook Air, one can't help but wonder what they could do with a high-end Atom chip. The current MacBook Air Contains either a 1.60 GHz or 1.80 GHz Core 2 Duo. While the Atom is single-core (for now), it is clocked at up to 1.87 GHz. While I imagine the use of the Atom would mean an increase in price, imagine how Apple could perhaps make the MacBook Air even smaller.

Also, consider what the iPhone could do with one of these chips.

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