Most smartphone manufacturers have chosen to ignore Intel's mobile offerings in favor of ARM chips, but Intel is hoping to change their minds with its latest microarchitecture. Today Intel unveiled Silvermont, which reportedly will result in new mobile chips with three times the performance of current-gen Intel Atom processors. Alternatively, Silvermont will enable Intel's next-gen Merrifield smartphone chips to achieve the same performance levels as Clover Trail+ with one-fifth of the power consumption.
Want more specifics? Other advertised features of Silvermont include:
- A new out-of-order execution engine enables best-in-class, single-threaded performance.
- A new multi-core and system fabric architecture scalable up to eight cores and enabling greater performance for higher bandwidth, lower latency and more efficient out-of-order support for a more balanced and responsive system.
- New IA instructions and technologies bringing enhanced performance, virtualization and security management capabilities to support a wide range of products. These instructions build on Intel’s existing support for 64-bit and the breadth of the IA software installed base.
- Enhanced power management capabilities including a new intelligent burst technology, low-power C states and a wider dynamic range of operation taking advantage of Intel’s 3-D transistors. Intel® Burst Technology 2.0 support for single- and multi-core offers great responsiveness scaled for power efficiency.
Silvermont is actually the architecture of choice for Intel's entire lineup of next-gen low-power applications, including everything from smartphones and tablets to the next batch of Ultrabooks.
Of concern to us, though, is that the mobile chip platform which will be built on the Silvermont architecture, Merrifield, will begin shipping at the end of this year. Intel's current-gen Clover Trail+ processors haven't seen much in the way of high profile adoption, counting the likes of Lenovo and ZTE among its list of suitors. Meanwhile, Qualcomm has all but dominated the mobile chipset industry with its highly integrated Snapdragon SoCs. Samsung and NVIDIA continue to iterate impressive products, as well.
Based on this information, though, Intel is poised to be the first company to ship a mobile processor on a 22nm fabrication process, and those performance figures really do seem to mean business. Intel's previous-gen Z2460 chip, while no speed demon, was also far from slow, and actually demonstrated respectable power consumption figures. Now its next-gen successor will be more than three times as quick at full crank, and use less than a fifth the energy when completing more basic tasks. Those figures may have raised a few eyebrows at Qualcomm.