Intel's Silverthorne is now called Atom
Intel has given the name "Atom" to its economical and compact x86 processor for Ultra-mobile PCs, mobile internet devices (MIDs) and embedded systems. It was developed under the code name "Silverthorne". The MID platform, previously known as Menlow, is now called Centrino Atom: it consists of the Atom processor, the Poulsbo chipset and a still unnamed wireless network adapter chip.
Intel revealed a few more details of the Atom along with its new marketing name, saying it processors will work up to 1.8GHz and, depending on maximum clock frequency, will have a thermal design power (TDP) of 0.6W to 2.5W. It was already known that Silverthorne's approximately 47 million transistors occupied a die area of about 25mm², making the 45nm Atom one of today's smallest x86 processors. The codename "Fusion" for the AMD CPU/GPU Combo chip planned for 2009 would appear to be a play on the name of Intel's Atom.
Atom isn't intended to compete with other x86 processors for mobile equipment: it's meant instead to develop a new market for Intel's IA-32 architecture, high-end smartphones and internet access devices. Intel frequently alludes to the iPhone as an example, and Apple is also a potential key customer for the Atom. No x86 processors have previously been used in this device class, which is dominated by the extremely economical RISC processors from ARM, usually as highly integrated system-on-chips (SoCs). Centrino Atom can't so far compete with these, but Intel's next generation, Moorestown, to follow Atom in 2009, is planned to be an SoC.
Nothing is yet known about Atom's performance, but according to Intel it is meant to reach approximately the level of a three- to four-year old Pentium M. While dual-core processors with out-of-order execution dominate present notebooks, Atom is an in-order single core, but it can handle hyper-threading and simultaneous multi-threading (SMT).
The Silverthorne chip will also be used in the less economical but cheaper Diamondville, which is intended to be used in cheap notebooks and desktop computers. Its TDP values are estimated as between 4W and 8W, it should manage without a fan, with just a simple heat sink.