Intel announced the Atom processor in 2008. That same year we were introduced to the first two members of the family: Diamondville and Silverthorne. The chips were both called Atom, but they differed in their application. Diamondville was used in desktops, nettops and netbooks, while Silverthorne was almost exclusively for MIDs (Mobile Internet Devices).

Atom continues its split personality. Silverthorne begets Moorestown, the next-generation Atom for MIDs and smartphones. Diamondville, on the other hand, leads us to Pine Trail - the next-generation Atom for desktops, nettops and netbooks.

Pine Trail is the platform codename. Pineview is the codename for the new Atom CPU.

Pineview takes the same 45nm Atom architecture introduced in 2008 and integrates a memory controller, DMI link and GMA 3150 graphics core.

Integrating the memory controller is extremely important for Atom as it continues to be an in-order architecture. With minimal options for reordering instructions on the fly, if Atom encounters a load the pipeline stalls while the memory request completes. Despite Atom’s sensitivity to memory latency, most synthetic tests showed a minimal improvement in memory latency from Pineview. The real world performance benefit is also less than expected but tangible, but for whatever reason that’s not manifested in any synthetic memory latency tests. More on this shortly.

Two Versions of the New Atom

The chips being announced today are the Intel Atom N450, Atom D410 and D510. The N450 is the lower power netbook version of the new Atom and is a single core processor. Intel claims that only single core Atom processors will be offered in netbooks, a limitation that may be lifted at some point in the future but no time soon. Intel seems intent on keeping netbooks from being too high performance, or even just less miserable than they would be with a single core Atom.

The D410 and D510 are for desktops and nettops. They are single and dual core versions of the new processor, respectively.

All three chips run at 1.66GHz. They only differ in core counts, TDPs, memory speed and supported capacity. The table below lists the details:

Processor Clock Speed Cores / Threads L2 Cache Memory TDP
Intel Atom D510 1.66GHz 2 / 4 1MB DDR2-800 (4GB max) 13W
Intel Atom D410 1.66GHz 1 / 2 512KB DDR2-800 (4GB max) 10W
Intel Atom N450 1.66GHz 1 / 2 512KB DDR2-667 (2GB max) 5.5W

 

The netbook version of Pineview only supports a maximum of DDR2-667 and according to Intel's datasheet can only support at most 2GB of memory. Its TDP is nearly half that of the desktop/nettop version.

The first dual core Atom processors were just two single core Atoms on a single package. Pineview dual-core is monolithic because both cores have to share the same memory controller.


Dual-core Atom "Diamondville" (left) vs. Dual-core Atom "Pineview" (right)

No Native Hardware H.264 Decoding: Long Live Ion
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  • Jeffk464 - Monday, December 21, 2009 - link

    This might be a decent solution with the broadcom media chip making it capable of playing HD content and hopefully flash media. Reply
  • dealcorn - Monday, December 21, 2009 - link

    If I am reading correctly the Intel platform with Broadcom media accelerator (about $25) is cheaper than the Ion platform and will consume less energy. Some relevant perfortmance testing may help determine whether the Intel platform is positioned to dominate the frugal HTPC market.

    It is a bummer that you will need to spend chump change for a SATA port card to enable software raid 5 for a frugal media server.

    Likely, the incremental performance improvements are adequate for Intel to maintain its cachet in the dissed, real world netbook market with its surprisingly large volumes.

    Its kinda a nothing platform, but in context may be a home run.
    Reply
  • Jeffk464 - Monday, December 21, 2009 - link

    For it to be a solution for me it needs to be on a mobo that has a pcie slot and hdmi through the broadcom chip. I'm not to hopeful though, will probably end up with a i3 solution. Too bad, I like the idea of going super low wattage. Reply
  • psychobriggsy - Monday, December 21, 2009 - link

    The platform is standing still apart from getting more integrated. Hopefully that will mean cheaper. Maybe some netbooks will get cheaper, but otherwise the platform is a complete waste of time because of the lack of HD video capability (for Intel to call the graphics "HD Graphics" is verging on consumer misrepresentation, it can't even do 1080p output via HDMI/DVI, what is this, 2005?).

    Why did the review concentrate on benchmarks of applications nobody would run on such a system?

    These chips are a solution for nothing apart from the unwealthy Office user who needs 8 hours of battery instead of 6.
    Reply
  • Jeffk464 - Monday, December 21, 2009 - link

    It can be used for a low power/cost network storage device. Reply
  • Zool - Monday, December 21, 2009 - link

    There could be a test with underclocked and undervolted E5300 against the Atom D510. Maybe Power vs performance would be quite close if not better for the E5300. I think that everyone could take another 10W for a performance thats not crapy (even netbooks). Reply
  • Calin - Monday, December 21, 2009 - link

    10 more watts would mean going from 8-9 hours of socket-free operation down to 6 (or maybe less). Not acceptable for the people that want 8 hours of socket-free operation. As for higher performance CPU, you have the low voltage processors (CULV), which will better fit the bill. Reply
  • Zool - Monday, December 21, 2009 - link

    Thing is that 10+ more wats in CPU doesnt mean that u use it all the time. For internet browsing and so (not like u can use it efectivly for something more) the cpu isnt working 100% all the time just sporadicly.
    Majority of the power usage in those scenarios is in the rest of the hardware like display ,gpu, mainboard which runs all the time.
    And i dont even say that with faster cpu the task are faster done so u use the cpu on 100% state less time in total.

    Atom is the only one of its kind now and without competition it will stay this crapy for long time.
    Reply
  • cjs150 - Monday, December 21, 2009 - link

    There are 3 markets for this type of product: notebooks, HTPC and cheap file servers:

    HTPC market: complete failure because the graphics are not up to scratch

    Cheap file server: only SATA ports but I could add my raid card to this but the given the cost it would be cheaper to buy a NAS box

    Notebooks: barely adequate - word processing and simple internet browsing only.

    So for 2 out of 3 markets it is a waste of space and the 3rd market it is merely sub-par what is already out there
    Reply
  • Jeffk464 - Monday, December 21, 2009 - link

    Don't give up yet, mobo manufacturers have the option to put a broadcom media chip on their boards. I don't know if this will come with HDMI though. Have to wait and see. Reply

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