Intel's Centrino Atom nucleus of new sub-notebooks and MIDs

Intel showed off this Toshiba MID prototype at CES 2008

Intel has announced a new line of processors designed for cheap sub-notebooks and mobile Internet devices (MIDs). Formerly known as Silverthorne, the processor will sit alongside the Centrino branding for MIDs - Centrino Atom. That's the new name for Intel's long-announced Menlow platform. Menlow also incorporates a graphics processor and wireless tech.

Intel has talked an awful lot about its MID platform - including a full demo of in-development location-specific applications during Paul Otellini's CES 2008 keynote. But it remains to be seen whether it will be able to push them out to the market now that our top-end mobiles are so capable.

On single threaded apps, Intel says Atom will equate to the performance of the original Pentium M processor (Banias) and fully conforms to the Core 2 Duo instruction set - meaning apps don't need to be rewritten in any way. Intel says the 25mm chip is the corporation's smallest and lowest power processor yet.

Diamondville is the former name for the version of Atom aimed at the sub-notebook market as we tend to call them - the Asus Eee PC and its competitors.

Cool and quick

Both chips are based on Intel's now stock-in-trade 45nm process with handily small thermal envelopes despite a hardly tardy top clock of 1.8GHz. The chips have a thermal design power (TDP) specification in 0.6-2.5 watt range compared to a Core 2 Duo TDP of 35 watts.

"This is our smallest processor built with the world's smallest transistors," said Intel executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer Sean Maloney in a statement.

"This small wonder is a fundamental new shift in design, small yet powerful enough to enable a big internet experience on these new devices. We believe it will unleash new innovation across the industry."

Interesting then that for such a 'fundamental shift' that Intel should chose the same name for one of its processors as Acorn did for its Atom home computer back in 1980. Fashion is a fickle thing...


Dan (Twitter, Google+) is TechRadar's Former Deputy Editor and is now in charge at our sister site Covering all things computing, internet and mobile he's a seasoned regular at major tech shows such as CES, IFA and Mobile World Congress. Dan has also been a tech expert for many outlets including BBC Radio 4, 5Live and the World Service, The Sun and ITV News.