Introducing the Intel® Atom™ processor

Atom. One of the smallest things in our universe, and a very appropriate name for Intel’s new line of processors that are not only Intel’s smallest processors, but also contain the world’s smallest transistors.

Today, Intel unveiled the new brand, Intel® Atom™ processor, and a brand extension to the Intel Centrino® brand family: Intel Centrino® Atom processor technology. Soon, you will see the Intel Centrino Atom brand on handheld devices that can bring an amazing internet experience in a device that fits in your pocket. You’ll see the Intel Atom processor powering a growing category of devices aimed at delivering affordable, Internet-centric uses.

The Intel Atom processor

These new engines for new categories of devices are really special because they were designed from the ground-up. These aren’t a desktop PC processor modified for low power. The new Intel Atom brand family was designed for a mix of performance, low power usage, size and affordability. Customers will be able to purchase an Intel Atom processor that maximizes any one of those 4 attributes, depending on their targeted device. To make this a reality, Intel used its cutting-edge manufacturing technology: 45 nanometer, Hi-k metal gate technology. Sounds like science fiction, doesn’t it? In simple terms, this is the same manufacturing technology that is used to produce Intel’s latest desktop, notebook and server processors.

Enough performance to deliver an amazing internet experience in your pocket. Low power. Built on world class manufacturing technology using the world’s smallest transistors. A new miracle in miniaturization: The Intel® Atom™ processor.

Brian Fravel


Intel Director of Marketing, Brand Strategy


29 Responses to Introducing the Intel® Atom™ processor

  1. Bryan Rhoads says:

    Jonathan –
    Apple’s MacBook Air uses an earlier Intel 65nm processor. Atom is a 45nm technology and design for even lighter and smaller form factors.

  2. Joy says:

    Hi Brian,
    When will devices based on the Centrino Atom be available? I was planning to buy a UMPC based on the A110. Now, I guess I will wait.

  3. Paul Phillips says:

    Where are the ultra mobile devices though? And do any run Vista adequately? It seems to me the mobility vision is taking a long time to deliver.

  4. Uday Keshavdas says:

    Joy, Paul, Sal,
    Centrino Atom will be launched in the first half of 2008, which means that early devices (UMPCs and Mobile Internet Devices) will break into the marketplace around the middle of the year. At CES we showcased a variety of designs based on Centrino Atom. You can learn more about that at Engadget. Search word MID.
    Can these run Vista? Yes and plenty adequately too. You will see MIDs and UMPCs running Vista and Linux. The linux will be based on Moblin ( Moblin is Intel’s open source project targeting these devices. From a consumer standpoint, there will be both options to choose from.
    Expect to see a variety of designs based on Linux and Vista coming in 2008.

  5. These new chips are pretty amazing. But has anyone tried setting up a couple of them to run in parallel or in an array? I can only begin to imagine how much power you could pump out with a small collection of these Atoms (a Molecule perhaps?).

  6. Alan says:

    What I want to see is a modern version of the old clamshell HPC devices like the Psion 5mx or HP Jornada 720. What business users want is a computer with a touch type keyboard (NOT a thumb or pen only input), full windows, and small enough to fit into a jacket pocket but also as large as possible to fit into that pocket so the screen and keyboard are as user friendly as possible.

  7. jeremy says:

    Is it possible to put these on a motherboard (maybe mini-ITX)? I’d really like to build a fanless system with something like this.

  8. Rodfather says:

    Google ‘Silverthorne’ and ‘Menlow’ and you’ll find what you’re looking for. They just changed the name to Atom.
    It’s basically the successor to the A100/A110 processors but with better power management/CPU states.
    I’m hearing performance is similar to 900Mhz Celeron.

  9. question says:

    Does anybody know what’s in SoC? I mean which peripherals? The information till now is bit vague.

  10. Paul Phillips says:

    @Alan – I agree with the Psion 5 comment. I too want to see touch type keyboard (not a thumb or pen only input). All the designs I’ve seen so far have thumbboards at best, and are copies of the OQO 02 design, so dont push the form factor forward.
    @rodfather – 900Mhz Celeron wouldnt be fast enough for vista Id have thought

  11. Brian Fravel says:

    The processor code named “Silverthorne” is now the new Intel(r) Atom(tm) processor. It was completely developed from the ground up and is significantly different from its predecessors.

  12. Jeremy says:

    I see from the wikipedia entry on the Intel Atom that this chip uses a 441-ball µFCBGA socket. Are there any motherboards (planned?) available which will accept this CPU?

  13. Rodfather says:

    @Paul: I guess it’ll depend on drivers and RAM.
    I ran Vista on the original Celeron 900Mhz Samsung Q1 and then the 800Mhz A110 based Fujitsu U810.
    It ran, but it wasn’t pleasant. That’s just me though.
    I eventually switched to XP Tablet Ed.

  14. Piper8 says:

    BGA means that it is soldered directly to a board, it does not interface with a socket at all. Would be cool if they made some little boards with these integrated though. Maybe Nano-ITX or even Pico-ITX.

  15. hemant says:

    this is really fantastic innovation from intel.
    As we all know in today’s competitive environment power consumption and energy efficiency are the major issues for all of us.
    Intel outplayed others in this area and i believe Intel will continue with further more mindblowing initiatives.
    keep it up intel team

  16. Eduardo Duran Nardecchia says:

    The Atom processor will be include the capability to work with Mobile WiMax ?

  17. Mikel says:

    This is an exciting development. The upside potential is huge for embedded applications like home router, NAS, portable system on a pendrive, POE webcams and a lot more. To develop embedded applications on the Core architecture toolchain will drastically reduce entry requirements for developers.
    To have the next two billion users join us online without burning enough fossil fuels to generate 300W per desktop is a definite plus. It looks like this could be SOC embedded in an LCD monitor on parasitic power with Intel’s new Flash IDE tech this turns a monitor into a rich client for practically nothing. No doubt we’ll see the Internet Everywhere devices like microbooks and crazy cellphones at launch. Could this finally be the tech that drives tablets to the mainstream?
    What the clever engineers will do with it should make for an interesting show. How many of these would fit in a standard drive bay? What could a toy with this embedded do? Can this be the universal Wireless Mesh repeater? Home robotics applications? It would be cool to see Intel answer the gumstix in this way.
    Intel has changed the game again. Congrats on keeping it fresh.

  18. Brian Fravel says:

    @Eduardo: You should absolutely expect some devices based on Intel(r) Atom(tm) processors to be equipped with mobile WiMAX. The Intel Atom processor + mobile WiMAX will truly deliver you the internet in your pocket almost anywhere. (Of course the lawyers ask me to add this piece). Mobile WiMAX deployment is dependent on a service provider rolling out the service, so you’ll need to check availability in your area. Chances are, devices with WiMAX will also support WiFi, so you’ll have multiple options for connectivity.

  19. Geri says:

    Will speech recognition be available with this new MID technology? You mention other devices that have voice capabilities. From what I can see these new MIDs will only have touch screen capabilities. I would want them in some situations to be hands free.

  20. Eric says:

    Yeah, I want to echo that I want to see these in a small form-factor motherboard. I am all for low-power computing. It may not run Vista, but a slimmed down XP I bet it runs fine (see nLite). And of course a well designed Linux distro for this task would be no problem. Even Microsoft might be getting it, in that I hear their next version of Windows will be more modular, and will allow for a more slimmed/streamlined version of Windows to be installed. A solid core, with the ability to add on to it. That would be a smart move. What about offering this on a motherboard in Intel’s “Little Valley” series? Can anyone say “D201GLY3” (or maybe it will be the D201GLY4 by then; hopefully with DVI or HDMI!!). Looking forward to it.

  21. steven myers says:

    How much DRAM is necessary for optimal performance with Atom; is it designed for use with DDR-2? DDR-3? Will system design benefit from selection of low power mobile DRAM or is standard PC DRAM fine for battery life?

  22. Christal Anto says:

    I think now core 2 duo processor is the best and give more porfamance to the users

  23. Is Intel planning to manufacture original Intel motherboard for this processor? If it does so, it will open up tremendous opportunity for system integrators like us to provide products on reliable, thermal friendly and proven platform. It really can get more interesting…

  24. Ray says:

    I have had an Atom D945GCLF for a week from Tranquil PC. I have squeezed it into a 1U high media PC case that originally had an overheating 5 year old processor running Linux. My Atom is running XP Professional SP2 and it seems quick for normal use (plays COD1 3D game, but not COD2 due to graphics chip). Two of the uncooled larger support chips get hotter than I am comfortable with, so I have attached simple home made heat sinks (as I want to run it 24×7, but have heat worries after my old processor). So good job Intel, but I would like Intel to bring out a version using a notebook chipset that could be used for a ‘very green’ Linux home server.

  25. gooby says:

    Please make a desktop computer about as big as a paperback that has a blu-ray dvd and runs vista, but has no fan. That would be nice.