Intel Silverthorne Chip for UMPC and Mobile Internet Device

Intel Silverthorne Chip for UMPC and Mobile Internet Device
Intel Silverthorne Chip for UMPC and Mobile Internet Device. Following on rumors that Apple's next-generation iPhone (or Newton) would make use of Intel's x86-based Silverthorne chip, and Intel's overtures with their iPhone-mocking mobile internet device, Intel is slated to debut the Silverthorne microprocessor later this week. The upcoming single-core processor known as Silverthorne is a 45nm processor designed for the mobile market, such as UMPCs and tiny notebooks.

Intel has upgraded the chip with HyperThreading support. While tiny in size, it is a full blown 64-bit processor. It sports a 16-stage pipeline, 533MHz bus and 512KB L2 cache.

As a scaled-down x86 chip, Silverthorne can top out at 2Ghz (2W) to do the heavy-lifting, while also dialing-down to a more mobile-friendly 600mW operating range. Silverthorne should bring Pentium M performance to the mobile space.

"What has a lot of OEMs excited is the dynamic range of this processor," said Justin Rattner, chief technology officer of Intel. "It can be active at less than 1 W, but when it has a workload in front of it–like interpreting some Java byte codes to render a Web page–it can really crank."

However, Intel seems to be marketing Silverthorne towards the UMPC and mobile internet device market rather than the smartphone market. Silverthorne doesn't have the ultra-low power consumption of some of its rivals and so will make its debut in larger, paperback sized devices. As we all saw with Intel's iPhone-esque internet device concept, Silverthorne's going to be pulling duty in some sizable devices.

While Silverthorne makes strides ratcheting down the power of an X86 processor, it is still a long way from integrated cellular chips that aim to deliver PC-like functions to pocket-size communicators. For instance, at the same ISSCC session, Texas Instruments will describe a cellular chip capable of decoding MPEG-4 video streams that includes an 840-MHz ARM11 to run applications, a 480-MHz TI C55x DSP core to handle 2G and 3G baseband comms, and a 240-MHz image processor.

Given Silverthorne's relatively heft power-consumption, we're not sure if Apple will choose to put the Intel chip in the next-gen iPhone. It would make more sense for Apple to team up with Intel on the Apple Newton - a larger device that fits Intel's Silverthorne profile perfectly. Still, with full notebook performance in an ultra-mobile form-factor, we can't wait to see what Silverthorne-powered devices Intel launches. We hope it's not too much to ask for Intel to produce the internet-device that we played with at CES 2008 (even if it was a mockup).
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