Intel accelerates Atom development

Wants to play a bigger role in the embedded space.

Traditionally most of the embedded space has belonged to ARM, MIPS and the good old PowerPC, but Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) is starting to get more active in this space.

According to Jonathan Luse, Director of Marketing, Low Power Embedded Products Division for Intel’s Embedded and Communications Group, Intel is planning to release cores based on 32nm (Saltwell), 22nm (Silvermont) and 14nm (Airmont) process technology in 2012, 2013 and 2014. The first chip based on the Saltwell core is due in first half of 2012 and is code named Medfield. This chip is followed in the second half of 2012 by Cloverfield that is a dual core implementation. This is significantly faster pace than Intel’s traditional Tic-Toc-model.

Intel already has around 5000 design engagements covering such diverse applications as, car wash ticketing, subway ticketing stations, ATMs and portable ultrasound scanners with half of the revenue coming from new customers.

Intel is placing greater and greater emphasis on a complete and diverse SoC design. To make these SoCs Intel is using a method called Intel On-Chip System Fabric (IOSF) that allows Intel to glue various IP blocks together. These blocks can be either internally developed blocks or third party blocks such as graphics from Imagination that Intel is already using in its SoCs.

Intel is also actively optimizing the power budget and should end up with chips that use less than 10W – some all the way down to around 1.5W.

Finally Intel is also placing a major effort in the software stack and currently has customers on 7 different versions of Windows as well as proprietary operating systems, home-grown Linux distros and real time operating systems such as VxWorks.S|A

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