In a webcast organized for investors and media, the company, which had lost ground to ARM Holdings as smartphones and tablets surpassed laptops and desktops in popularity, said that Silvermont would form the basis for its next-generation Atom microprocessors called Bay Trail and Merrifield.
While Bay Trail, which would power tablets, should start appearing in devices by the end of this year, Merrifield would be available inside smartphones in the first quarter of 2014.
ARM, a UK-based company, makes the core technology that is used by companies like Qualcomm, Nvidia, MediaTek, Apple and Samsung to create microprocessors for phones and tablets.
Currently, the Atom processors used inside smartphones are based on architecture that was introduced by Intel in 2008. While these processors have performance that is comparable to ARM-based chips, they seem to suffer from the lack of interest from companies that make phones and tablets.
“Silvermont is a leap forward and an entirely new technology foundation for the future that will address a broad range of products and market segments,” said Dadi Perlmutter, Intel executive vice president and chief product officer. “Early sampling of our 22nm SoCs, including Bay Trail, is already garnering positive feedback from our customers. Going forward, we will accelerate future generations of this low-power microarchitecture on a yearly cadence.”
Earlier, Leighton Phillips, Intel’s product marketing director in Asia, had told TOI that consumers would be able to buy Bay Trail tablets by Christmas this year. “Several manufacturers, including a very big tablet maker, are already working on Bay Trail devices,” he said.
In the webcast on Monday, Intel claimed that the new Atom processor would offer up to three times more performance and up to five times less power consumption compared to the existing Atom processors. The company also claimed that its chips would offer vastly superior performance and power consumption compared to ARM-based products found inside most of smartphone and tablets.
The next-generation Atom processor will have up to 8 cores. Smartphones are likely to have dual-core processors while tablets will have quad-core chips. The 8-core processors will be reserved for micro-servers.
Intel did not provide any absolute performance numbers but claimed that the dual-core Silvermont processor is on average 50% faster than the ARM quad-core processors found in current smartphones.
Intel, which rules the personal computer industry, has found the going difficult in the smartphone and tablet market. It has been slow to respond to the changing market at a time when its competitors like Qualcomm have moved fast to create new processors within months.
Intel claimed that going forward it would update the Atom architecture every year. The company also said that it would use its technology lead in manufacturing of micro-processors to make chips for smartphones and tablet. So far, the company has used its and latest and greatest manufacturing technologies to make personal computer processors.
Bay Trail and Merrifield will be manufactured using Intel’s 22nm technology. The current Atom processor are manufactured using 32nm technology while most of the high-end ARM processors use 28nm technology.
For Intel, Silvermont is crucial to its future. While the company has financially performed better than expected in recent years, the effect of falling computer sales is evident on its income. In first quarter of 2013, the company’s net income was down almost 25% compared to the income in Q1, 2012.