Final Words

Silvermont really is Intel’s Conroe for the mobile market, but not in the sense that many have been expecting. Given that success in mobile is so closely tied to device wins, Silvermont alone isn’t enough. Unlike Conroe, a very competitive Silvermont won’t change the world overnight. What Silvermont does however is offer a great foundation for Intel going forward. Conroe lead to Penryn, Nehalem, Westmere, Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge and soon, Haswell. It was the platform that Intel could build on regularly by executing on tick-tock. Conroe paved the way for the insane advantage Intel has held onto for the past few years. Silvermont is like Conroe in that it provides that same foundation.

The mobile market is far more competitive than the PC industry was back when Conroe hit. There isn’t just one AMD but many competitors in the SoC space that are already very lean and fast moving. There’s also the fact that Intel doesn’t have tremendous marketshare in ultra mobile. Silvermont may feel a lot like Conroe, but the market it’s competing in is very different. That’s not to say that Intel can’t be successful here; it’s just not going to be easy.

Architecturally Silvermont is very conservative, and that’s not a bad thing. A side effect of not wanting to make Haswell irrelevant by a far lower cost part is the benefit of maintaining power efficiency. Intel joins the ranks of Apple and Qualcomm in intelligently scaling performance while respecting power consumption. Intel’s 22nm process should give Silvermont a lot of runway to use. If it can quickly follow up with 14nm, Silvermont’s power advantage could end up being akin to Conroe’s performance advantage in the mid-2000s.

Even so, Silvermont is long overdue. It’s the first mobile architecture where Intel really prioritized smartphones and tablets, and on paper, it looks very good. Now it’s up to Intel to turn a great architecture into great design wins. From what I’m hearing, we may actually see that happen.

Tablet Expectations & Performance
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  • MelodyRamos47 - Sunday, May 12, 2013 - link

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  • samda - Monday, May 13, 2013 - link

    I signed up here just to post this and show just how objective Anand really is.
    "It will be insane if Silvermont reaches the 2010 MacBook Air "
    Well what a load of biased ignorance.

    Mr. Anand, you might want to read this and learn a bit:

    http://browser.primatelabs.com/geekbench2/1946978

    http://browser.primatelabs.com/geekbench2/1947269

    Galaxy S4 ALREADY being there, heck even beating it easily!

    Can you imagine what will a 2Ghz Octa do?
    With this kind of memory? http://m.androidauthority.com/samsung-lpddr3-ram-2...

    How about Snapdragon 800?

    But yeah, it seems someone is being too busy sucking on Intel and living in the past!
    Reply
  • etre - Monday, May 13, 2013 - link

    Still Intel is not really trying on this market. They moved up from a 2008 design to a 2010 design on a last year process. And it took them 5 years to do that.
    They should have offered Haswell kind of tech, with the improvements on memory, this summer, at a killer price.

    Why should I support Intel by buying an Asus Phonepad, on a promise that they will bring something sometime, instead of going for a sure bet with the new Nexus 7 and quad core Krait.
    Reply
  • CodyCostaRica - Monday, May 20, 2013 - link

    Anand,

    Thanks so much for this article. I would be highly interested in knowing how Intel's current and future chip road maps stack up against the competitors' current and future offerings in the mobile space (Qualcomm, NVIDIA, Samsung, Apple).

    For example, how does Silvermont compare to the Apple A6X, currently used in the latest iPad?

    Keep up the good work!
    Reply

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