Intel's 22nm Atom: Silvermont, Bay Trail Debut

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The goal of Silvermont (in all its configurations) is to substantially boost single-thread and multi-threaded performance while simultaneously slashing power consumption thanks to the 22nm FinFET process being used to build the chip, along with architectural tweaks. The following graph contains a great deal of information about Silvermont's estimated performance:

"Iso" is a Greek prefix meaning "equal." 1C1T = 1 core, 1 thread. 2C4T is a reference to Saltwell's Hyper-Threading. What these slides show, in aggregate, is a phenomenal increase in performance, performance-per watt, and a dramatic reduction in power consumption. The benefits extend through every scenario in single and multi-threaded configurations and, according to Intel, are a key component of why Bay Trail / Avoton will decimate the competition when the new chips finally launch late this year or the beginning of next.

According to Intel, the new chips are substantially faster than anything its competitors are fielding. The company is promising dual-core Silvermont chips that are 1.4x - 2.1x faster than equivalent quad-core products from its competitors, while drawing 1.6x - 3.1x less power (The use of x-less power nomenclature is somewhat confusing).

How fair are these figures? That's a question worth asking. Intel's slides note that the "software and workloads used in performance tests have been optimized only on Intel microprocessors." On the other hand, when we first unveiled Medfield, the phone's performance and battery life tests in real world usage matched up with what Intel claimed the phone could do against the competition.  In the past, Intel has been played things straight when it came to comparing its tablet and mobile phone platforms against ARM competitors, and we don't see a reason to conclude the company has deviated from that this time around.

Power Consumption:

Better performance is of limited value without better power consumption, and Intel aims for Silvermont to deliver on both counts. The "Race to Zero" has become the new 1GHz push, and Intel has further tweaked Silvermont's design to allow the chip to enter and leave wait-states more efficiently. As we've previously covered, the ability to race to minimum power consumption is extremely important to a CPU's overall power consumption.

The graphs Intel is showing at this point claim major advantages for Silvermont in this regard. Obviously, that's what we'd expect -- Intel isn't going to hand out substandard comparisons -- but take them with a grain of salt. It's not clear if these comparisons use Cortex-A15 hardware, older Cortex-A9 products built on 40nm, or both.

Silvermont will also be capable of more aggressive power budget sharing, with CPU and GPU cores adjusted on the fly to optimize performance. This is an option that's existed for multiple product generations, but Silvermont improves the cross-adjustment capability.

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kyfho23 one year ago

Interesting. The proof will be, as mentioned, in the product shipped, but does AMD get a head start, then compete on price?

For some reason, I've never had a comp with AMD. Am I a snob? :-)

JDiaz one year ago

AMD will retain their price advantage against Intel's higher end products but the ATOM SoCs are pushing to be competitive with ARM and that's below what AMD can go yet...

Besides, AMD's still targeting the performance range between ATOM and Core i-Series... Even Temash, which is the new 28nm SoC APU that's primarily intended for tablets has a Turbo Mode feature for the quad core version that more than doubles its max TDP from 5.9W to 14W (CPU clock speed ramps up from 1GHz to 1.4GHz)... Meaning it can basically switch from mobile to low end Ultrabook performance.

Though, Turbo Mode requires an additional battery in the dock to provide enough power without taking a big hit in run time and additional fans to boost cooling while operating in that mode... at least for Hybrids as Temash will also go into laptops...

Main problem for AMD is despite making some good improvements in their power management and reaching pretty low idling power states... They're still not in the same league as ARM and ATOM SoCs...

Like even Haswell will be able to idle to lower power states than Temash... The APU alone can only idle down to about 0.75W but Haswell can go down to about 0.1W... Though that's far better than Ivy Bridge, which can only idle down to about 3W... but still much higher than either ARM or ATOM can go down to...  At least for the SoCs... there are of course other variable like how much power the rest of the system may use...

However, AMD also won't support advance mobile features like always connected standby... So, while they may get into tablets and offer more performance than even Bay Trail... they won't be as mobile a solution, but you could consider them instead of Haswell if don't quite need that much CPU performance and the run times should still be better than today's Ultrabooks with either Temash or Kabini under the hood...

MayhemMatthew one year ago

I hane an Atom based tablet. Performance wise it sounds like it would match my five or six year old laptop, but realistically, it doesn't. Mostly because it only has two gigs of ram, a joke when running anything even slightly modern.

JDiaz one year ago

Bay Trail promises to more than double performance, and it likely will because they're basically cramming 5 years worth of upgrades all at once... Present ATOM is still based on the same architecture as when it was first introduced over 5 years ago.

While, regardless, RAM will be less of a issue because Bay Trail will support up to 8GB and pushes full 64bit support... It'll just be up to the OEMs how much they will offer and being a SoC it may not be possible to upgrade the RAM after purchase... So just make sure of configuration before purchase...

fteoOpty64 one year ago

Did anybody realise that Intel never said whose gpu this Bay Trial , it will use ?. If it uses Imagineering PVR 554MP3, that will ramp the power up a few watts and would need drastic power management. Unless they are targetting large 10 inch tablets, I do not see this chip being successful in tablets. Maybe in microServers where Arm was going to attack, this chip might claw back the market for Intel. For high-end Smartphones, one has to see the total pakage of Intel to judge its potential threat to S600, S800, T4 and T4i chips and whatever else that may come from the other smaller players.

It is also known that Intel's SoC parts are high priced, so that might just restrict the market somewhat. Everyone seems to think that if Intel had a product that could kill ARM, it would do so quickly. I bet to differ from that thinking becuase Intel is "more sly than a fox" and gradually attack se;ected markets of their choosing. They have the luxury of time and huge cash reserves (plus huge fab capacities) so they will play it for maximum effect to them and only them. No one else becuase everything else does not matter to Intel.

JDiaz one year ago

Actually, Bay Trail will be using a GMA based on the Ivy Bridge HD4000... not all the specs are known, like how fast it will be clocked, but it will be scaled back from the 16 execution units that the HD 4000 has to just 4 but it's suppose to still deliver around 3x the performance of the present Clover Trail GMA, which uses a SGX545 at 533MHz.

If true then performance would basically catch the ATOM GMA up to the performance range of AMD's original Brazos/Fusion series.

Since the present Clover Trail GMA is already nearly 3x better than the old Pine Trail ATOM GMA 3150, which AMD Brazos/Fusion offered 5x to 9x better graphical performance... So another 3x boost should put the ATOM GMA up to that level... you still won't be able to play any high end modern games but older games like WoW, Starcraft 2, etc should finally be playable... and full HD resolution screens should be no problem as it will definitely support up to 2560x1600 resolution.

They're also reportedly pushing some other Intel features like QuickSync, so with the right apps you could possibly do some video editing that won't take forever to do.

What may be more important though is the fact Intel supports Linux drivers for their own GMA and driver support for the HD 4000 has improves since it was first released and that should translate over for the Bay Trail GMA for a better launch driver performance and reliability...

Along with 64bit support should make a lot more options available to Bay Trail than is available to the present Clover Trail.

Anandtech did a analysis on what's known so far about Bay Trail and noted that part of the architectural improvements being reported that Bay Trail should be able to prioritize resources between CPU and GPU and the GPU can be prioritized as needed to help max out performance.

Along with a more basic version of Intel's Turbo Boost technology, something akin to how it worked for Sandy Bridge, and is called Burst Mode for Bay Trail...

All the while Bay Trail is also suppose to improve power efficiency... though that remains to be seen but Clover Trail already manages to beat Cortex A9 ARM SoCs like Tegra 3 for power efficiency. So battery life should be good despite the performance increase...

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