by Anton Shilov
07/17/2013 | 11:23 PM
For many years Atom positioned its Atom family of micro-processors as low-cost/low-power options for inexpensive personal computers, which is why the chips were made using mature process technologies and featured rather outdated micro-architectures. But as Intel enters the market of ultra-portable devices with x86 chips, the company wants to make Atom a leading-edge product. The company has a clear plan how to do so.
“Just a few weeks ago, I announced a significant reorganization. The changes we have made flatten the organization, improved decision making and will contribute to a culture of even greater accountability. These elements are critical in the fast pace ultra-mobile environment,” said Brian Krzanich, chief executive officer of Intel, during the latest conference call with financial analysts.
As a result of massive reorganization that Intel announced earlier this quarter, the company will be able to align innovations for both low-power Atom chips as well as high-performance Core products. In the following years, Intel will make Atom system-on-chips and Core-branded microprocessors using similar process technologies, which means that either the company will unify its general purpose and SoC manufacturing processes, or will have to develop them simultaneously. Moreover, all the architectural innovations inside Core processors, such as new instructions, graphics cores, media encoders/decoders and various accelerators will be the same on different chips from Intel.
“In addition to the organizational changes, we have made several strategy and priority changes that will allow us to focus and win in that environment. These changes will drive a greater emphasis on Atom-based products bringing the full weight of our process and architectural leadership to the Atom family. We will move Atom even faster to our leading-edge silicon technology and focus on the SoC integration of key components like graphics, communications and other devices. This does not mean we will lessen the value or leadership of our Core product family, but rather make Atom an equal player in technology leadership for the ultra-mobile space. Those product lines will be driving Intel's future,” said Mr. Krzanich.
This is not the first time when Intel tries to make Atom-branded offerings more competitive. In fact, in many cases the chip giant succeeds in its endeavors. For example, the latest Silvermont micro-architecture delivers up to five times reduction in power at the same level of performance or up to a three times improvement in performance over the current Atom “Saltwell” micro-architecture.
“Some of the changes we are making are sound and some are more transformational. In general, you're likely to see us making moves and adjustments in the market before you hear us talking about them. But we will of course have a substantive update for you at the investor meeting in November,” said the new chief executive of Intel.