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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  • Ghandalf - Monday, December 21, 2009 - link

    Hi,

    good article!
    What power-supply did you use for your tests? The idle consumption of the new d510 looks too high for me!
    Reply
  • blackbrrd - Monday, December 21, 2009 - link

    This really doesn't look very impressive, looks like we have to wait for 32nm to make the GPU usable as noted in the article... Reply
  • Ghandalf - Monday, December 21, 2009 - link

    Hi,

    good article!
    What power-supply did you use for your tests? The idle consumption of the new d510 looks too high for me!
    Reply
  • dgz - Monday, December 21, 2009 - link

    I am tired of Intel forcing crap products on consumers, while touting the great benefits. Clearly there is no benefit for the consumers. Not to a single one as the IGP is barely enough for Minesweeper.

    Although I am very disappointed with nVidia these days, their offerings are much better on the mobile segments - both phones and nettops.
    Reply
  • zdzichu - Monday, December 21, 2009 - link

    Best feature of this platform is getting back to known, supported GPU. Intel damaged its reputation with Paulsbo, now there a chance to get back to supported graphics chipset, with proper Open Source drivers. Reply
  • ET - Monday, December 21, 2009 - link

    The difference in numbers (950 vs. 3100) made me hope there'd be some improvement in the graphics, but it was my fault for not having done enough research. Turns out they're basically the same. I forgot it was the X3100 that had DX10 graphics, not the 3100 (how nice of Intel to use such clear naming convention).

    Still, in other respects this seems like an okay upgrade. A little better performance and lower power. I wonder if it will make the GMA 500 solutions go away.
    Reply
  • AmdInside - Monday, December 21, 2009 - link

    I'm a bit disappointed myself in Pinetrail platform. To me, it seems more or less a way to bring costs down for Intel while masking it as a performance bump to consumers. Unfortunately, my perfect netbook is an Atom dual core with an ION chipset on a 10" screen but it does not exist. There are 12" versions but then, it somewhat defeats the purpose of the netbook (portability and battery life). I wish a 10" version would come out. It would be the perfect companion video player. I could watch Hulu in bed, take to the gym and watch movies while on the treadmill, have it beside my main PC to stream sports programs while working, play hidef movies on my hard drive to a large HDTV, etc.. Hopefully someone will create a 10" Ion notebook in the near future. Reply
  • bnolsen - Saturday, December 26, 2009 - link

    I don't know about playing movies to hidef but I watch hulu all the time with my current netbook, on linux even. I also watch 720p encoded content, but scaled to fullscreen.

    Go buy the lenevo for $194 and try it.
    Reply
  • AznBoi36 - Monday, December 21, 2009 - link

    I agree with all your points, which is why I have not yet jumped on the Atom bandwagon. Reply
  • dagamer34 - Monday, December 21, 2009 - link

    It's pretty sad to see that Intel is muscling nVidia out of this market, when it's clear that a better product exists, and now we're getting a "new" product with worse performance across the board. Because if Flash isn't being hardware-accelerated, then that means that they CPU is doing more work, and whatever gains Pine Trail might have (i'm not convinced they're even worth writing an article over), it's negated by the exponential improvement in which Ion brings to the table.

    At first, I thought nVidia's CEO was blowing a bunch of hot air about Intel playing hardball, but it's pretty obvious that something is wrong with this picture here. If Microsoft got smacked down for bundling in 1998, I don't see how bundling the CPU and GPU into one chip and then locking other hardware vendors out with expensive contracts is any different. And what's worse, apparently the laws this time around allow the Federal government to not just look at Intel's past actions, but their effect on the future as well.
    Reply

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