Intel has traditionally treated Atom like an unwanted houseguest, leaving it on 40nm until late in 2011, and removing features with reckless abandon. The lack of attention showed, Atom was about as beloved as uninvited relatives asking for money, and sales reflected this.
Late in 2011, the chips finally were shrunk to the 32nm node just as the mainstream CPUs were going to 22nm. Although the low power process that Atom is fabbed on is distinct from the mainstream CPU process, the nearly three year lag was not warranted for technical reasons. In rectifying this, Atom will indeed progress faster than Moore’s law, even if Intel’s fab technology does not.
With the late 2011 mostly vaporous introduction of 32nm Atoms, the line moved to what is known as a -1 process, basically current generation minus one. As we stated earlier, this is true for the gross geometry, not the exact same process, there are nuance differences. It went from being four years behind the times to a mere two, but that was just the beginning.
Sources tell SemiAccurate that the 22nm Atoms will be announced at CES in 2013, less than a year away. This means that the line is on a current process, and is only lagging mainstream parts by a year. From there, the next step is 14nm, a process that is not due until 2014.
Luckily for Atom, it becomes the lead product on the 14nm node, so you should hear about 14nm Atoms before you hear about 14nm mainstream CPUs. These are set for introduction during CES 2014. In the course of a little over three years, Atom will have gone from a -2 process with a four year lag to the lead vehicle for new nodes. Quite the change, eh?S|A