Chicago (IL) – In an interview with German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) Intel chief executive officer Paul Otellini compared the importance of its upcoming mobile processor “Silverthorne” with the company’s original 8088 CPU and the 1994 Pentium processor.
You may have heard about Intel’s new processor for ultra-mobile devices “Silverthorne”, whose development was officially confirmed at this year’s Spring IDF in Beijing. But there’s a good chance you have not paid much attention to the chip, not just because it is still more than a year out from its debut, but also because it the CPU is aimed at cellphones and two other product categories – one of which hasn’t done particularly well so far and one that isn't available yet.
But Otellini believes that Silverthorne may be one of the most important products in Intel’s history. “The importance of the new Silverthorne chip is only comparable with the 8088 processor or Pentium,” he told the FAZ. The executive said that the company will create a 45 nm Silverthorne “product family” and aim to capture the “top 10 to 20% of the cellphone business.”
Intel previously announced that Silverthorne will debut as part of the “Menlow” platform in 2008. The processor will replace the recently and quietly introduced A100 and A110 UMPC CPUs, which are basically under-clocked (600 and 800 MHz, respectively) versions of the 90 nm Pentium M processor with Dothan core. The 45 nm Silverthorne chip is expected to be as fast as the second-generation of Pentium M processors, while running in a power envelope between 0.6 and 2.0 watts.
The FAZ article does not provide much information why Silverthorne is so important to Otellini, but it is unlikely that that Intel is just aiming at the cellphone market. The new CPU will also make its way into UMPCs, which show signs of becoming a replacement for the tablet PC rather than a mass market product, as well as Mobile Internet Devices. Intel believes that these Mobile Internet Devices, short MIDs, will have four to five times the volume opportunity than a relatively pricey UMPC. With a form factor that fits between the UMPC and a smartphone, a 5” screen, flash-based storage, a light operating system such as Ubuntu Linux (which was shown at IDF) and a $500 price tag, MIDs could be much more attractive for Intel than the UMPC.
Silverthorne is also the first processor that will focus much more on cost-efficiency than previous processors – which not only will allow Intel to increase profit margins, but also enable the firm to target these processors at much cheaper computing devices that will be more affordable for a greater audience around the globe. At IDF, Intel said that the CPU will be Intel’s “most cost-efficient processor since the 286 CPU. Manufactured in 45 nm, Intel can squeeze about 2500 Silverthorne processor on one 300 mm wafer. According to Otellini, the average price of a product that will be integrating a Silverthorne processor will be about $100.