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Intel's Pineview Expected This Fall

Intel's next generation of Atom processors, codenamed Pineview, may hit the market by the second half of this year, according to a report by DigiTimes.

The site quoted anonymous notebook makers for the story.

Intel first discussed Pineview at last year's Intel Developer Forum conference. It revealed then that Pineview would be an evolution of Lincroft, the first generation of Atom processors, but would include the memory controller and graphics processor on the CPU. Intel also said that the processor would be available in late 2009 in single- and dual-core versions.

DigiTimes cites notebook builders for the further details on the new processor line. Pineview will feature a 45nm processor with a built-in memory controller and integrated graphics processor (IGP). Intel would also replace the old frontside bus with a Direct Media Interface (DMI) to connect the Atom core to I/O chip.

This would essentially make the Pineview a system on a chip design. DigiTimes reported that the integration reduces the amount of motherboard space used by up to 60 percent and it would require fewer layers.

The thermal design power envelop would actually drop, from 8 watts to 7, even though performance would actually go up. Pineview's core frequencies will be higher than the 1.6GHz of the current Atom N270 and it will support faster DDR2 memory.

Intel has committed to begin migrating to 32 nanometer manufacturing, and has hinted it may move the Atom to 32nm first, since it is smaller and less complex than the Core 2, Core i7 or Xeon. The company declined to comment for this story, saying it does not comment on rumors and speculation.

Dean McCarron, president of semiconductor market research firm Mercury Research, said he had not spoken with Intel on Pineview but was not surprised at the rumored specs.

"You get a big power savings from that piece of the integration," he told InternetNews.com. "You're driving a lot less capacitive load on the signaling. Where signals change a lot, power gets consumed and that happens when you go off the chip and to another one."

Although Atom sales are helping keep Intel going in these tough economic times, making a stronger Atom would seem counter intuitive. Atom-based netbooks are already nibbling around the edges of regular notebook sales. McCarron thinks Celeron, not the Core 2 family, will suffer for it.

"If you look at how notebooks sales have fared so far, the only erosion I am seeing is in the Celeron market, and that's actually a net positive to Intel because they make better margins on Atom than they do on Celeron," he said.

The interesting question will be would this new Atom be going into purely netbook devices or in something with a screen size bigger than 10 inches. That would be the true indicator of market positioning, he added.