The World Changes, MIDs Ahead of Their Time

Silverthorne lacked integration, which wasn’t a problem for MIDs and netbooks, but it kept the chip out of smartphones. Between 2004 and Atom’s introduction in 2008 the iPhone happened. All of the sudden the clunky MIDs we were reluctantly waiting for stopped being interesting. What we wanted were more iPhones, and iPhone clones. Then came Android and the rest is history. While Atom had tremendous success in netbooks, Intel’s decision to pursue a discrete route first kept it out of smartphones.

Luckily, next on the list after the first Atom was a more integrated one with the goal of dropping power consumption. We saw this with Pine Trail, the netbook Atom that brought the memory controller and GPU on-die. Performance didn’t improve because unlike most integrated memory controllers, this one still connected to the CPU via a FSB.

Intel Atom "Diamondville" Platform 2008
Intel Atom "Pine Trail" Platform 2009-2010

Pine Trail still has all of the bells and whistles of a PC platform however. Take the PCI bus for example. Every 12 microseconds it wakes up and polls every IO on the platform. That kills idle battery life, especially when you’ve got a tiny smartphone battery. Pine Trail is useless for smartphones, and that’s where Moorestown comes in.

If you thought this was the netbook Atom squeezed into a smartphone, you’re very wrong. It’s got a completely different memory controller, a true smartphone GPU (the same core, but clocked higher than what’s in the iPhone 3GS) and a ton of power optimizations that just don’t exist in the netbook version. The chipset is also very different. The PCI bus is gone as is anything that could ruin power consumption. Intel did a lot of optimization and a lot of cutting here. What resulted is something that looks a lot like a smartphone hardware platform and nothing like what we’re used to seeing from Intel.

This is Moorestown.

Craig & Paul’s Excellent Adventure Moorestown: The Two Chip Solution That Uses Five Chips
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  • Suhail_kapoor - Wednesday, May 05, 2010 - link

    Anand, Intel said 3 out of 5, you said one magic device, I think they have one sorted out ... NOKIA is a company needing revolution and this partnership is Nokia's hope for smart phone market.

    Also outside US and to some extent Europe Nokia has a very strong foot hold, combined with essentially free software such as MeeGo the road looks good, only IF and a big if, they can deliver on software front.
    Reply
  • WaltFrench - Sunday, May 09, 2010 - link

    “…NOKIA is a company needing revolution and this partnership is Nokia's hope for smart phone market.”

    Only problem: Nokia needs a polished solution fast—its average sales price is imploding and the shareholders are restless. A solution that would require them to throw away all the development work to date would be suicidal.

    If it takes 12-24 months to implement a totally new architecture, with new software (seems a bit optimistic), only a smartphone maker whose roadmap is in great shape today can afford to make the switch; that'd be Apple. But they have just bulked up with PA Semi and Intrinsity; it'd be hard to imagine much Intel Inside.

    Not to mention that Intel's i-series CPUs seem to have been designed to derail Apple's plans of running with a graphics-centric, well-supported CPU. The extra silicon & design time seems to have kept the i3 out of Apple's 13" notebook, while the 15" and 17" have just-a-bit-rocky auto-switch technology to fire up the NVidia GPUs. It doesn't seem that Intel has exactly been courting Apple's product intentions of late.
    Reply
  • Lord Banshee - Wednesday, May 05, 2010 - link

    Intel First SoC based on Atom is not Moorestown, but CE4100(codename Sodaville) is: http://download.intel.com/design/celect/prodbrf/32...

    http://intelconsumerelectronics.com/

    Where is the love for Intel's CE product. Anand you should look into reviewing some products based off these products too.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Wednesday, May 05, 2010 - link

    Sure, is there a shipping product based on the CE3xxxx or CE4xxxx series?

    I remember there seemed to be something like the Yuixxx from Conceptronix or some similarly named Dutch company.. Did they ever ship?
    Reply
  • Lord Banshee - Wednesday, May 05, 2010 - link

    I am not sure what products have CE products in it... CE devices typically don't advertise this kind of info.

    Lots of rumors when searching for ce4100 on engadget

    http://www.engadget.com/search/?q=ce4100&invoc...
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Wednesday, May 05, 2010 - link

    Most of those CE4100 results are Intel announcements announcing platform updates or availabilities.

    The TiVo Premier result, I am not sure why it is even there.... TiVo Premier teardown revealed it is fully Boradcom based, IIRC.

    I am very interested to know whether there are any CE4100 products out in the hands of the customers right now... Any Intel employees / PR guys care to offer this information?
    Reply
  • zdzichu - Wednesday, May 05, 2010 - link

    Seeing that GPU part is descendant of Paulsbo... I foresee similar fiasco with opensource drivers as with GMA500. Too bad, it really damages Intel reputation. Reply
  • beginner99 - Wednesday, May 05, 2010 - link

    funny gma 600. Even if intel like improves gm drivers 100x fold, they will still suck...So you can pretty much say it depends on that.

    And there go my dreams for useful drivers for my menlow device...it's a PITA. slowing hardware by deliberatley? making horrible drivers.
    Reply
  • JumpingJack - Wednesday, May 05, 2010 - link

    Intel's graphics performance as they begin integrating into the CPU improved significantly, to the point of competitive. http://www.anandtech.com/show/2952/2

    Your view point is strictly from a desktop running pixels number as high as 1900x1200 (too much for even the best IGP from nVidia or ATi/AMD), on a smartpone the graphic intensity is not nearly enough... it does not need to win on the highest FPS, it just needs to get 30 FPS or better for a fluid experience.

    The graphics component should be fine, no real reason to suspect otherwise.
    Reply
  • rahvin - Wednesday, May 05, 2010 - link

    Given the abysmal Linux support of the GMA500 I foresee a complete piece of crap again that will result in this being used in NO android phones. For me Android is the future of the cellphone and frankly what happened with Paulsbro foreshadows the complete crap that this platform will be on Android and other Linux based platforms (like WebOS). The concerns of the OP are completely justified and I had exactly the same reaction when I read the GPU is based on PowerVR like the piece of crap GMA500.

    Intel cannot succeed in the Phone space if Linux is treated with the same disdain they presented with GMA500.
    Reply

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