EETimes analyst’s opinion on Intel Atom: it’s too early to write off ARM
Claims that the newly launched Intel Atom processors will quickly displace ARM solutions from the embedded market are premature, analysts at EETimes say.
With an operating frequency of ~ 1.8 GHz, these processors have a set of properties that are very useful for embedded systems: 45 nm
process, small size of the core in the package (25×25 mm), Intel High-K technology, large amount of cache memory; power consumption equal to tenths of that of ULV Core2 Duo chips. This makes Atom a very profitable, fast solution that is generally faster than ARM solutions, noted Kenton Williston, but
yet ARM chips are smaller and more energy efficient.
The ARM Cortex-A8 core, made, however, according to 65-nm standards, can operate at a frequency of ~ 1 GHz and consumes only 300 mW of energy. According to Texas Instruments (TI), at this frequency, the Cortex-A8 is capable of performing about 1200 million. instructions per second. We do not know much about the speed of Atom yet, thanks to the correspondents of the German resource Computerbase we know, for example, the execution time
Super PI test, where data on ARM solutions are not presented unfortunately.
Mr. Williston argues that Atom is simply too well-publicized and therefore
extolled by media resources, as something special, not too (or not at all) superior to analogues, for example, the same ARM processors:
- Atom can work with Windows CE and Linux OS. ARM works with them too;
- Atom offers work on the “real Internet”, quickly working with YouTube and other similar services. ARM processors also handle Flash video (in Opera Mobile and Skyfire);
- Atom will supplant ARM t.to. the latter is a proprietary technology. ARM chips are available from various manufacturers;
- Despite the more modern technical process, the Cortex-A8 core takes up even less space than the Atom – 3 x 3 mm versus 9 x 9 mm, so it is not necessary that Intel’s solution will prevail while minimizing costs;
- win for Intel in Atom energy efficiency. also unlikely – TDP Atom is 2.0 W, which is higher than 0.6 W for ARM Cortex-A8 (here, however, it would be worth taking into account the frequency difference…).
As for the pure speed, thanks to the multithreading support, the Intel Atom will certainly be slightly faster, especially in those applications that are optimized accordingly, the analyst notes.
Nevertheless, the most interesting versions of the Atom processor are expected only in a year or two, and the handheld and compact notebook market is booming now, so ARM and VIA are clearly not outsiders.
The strength of Atom in competing with VIA and ARM solutions is support for more applications, the ability to use this CPU in various consoles, such as TiVo and others, as well as in pocket gaming devices.