Intel Atom Processor Designed for New Handheld Mobile Devices

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Intel has taken the wraps off the Atom, an upcoming family of low-power processors designed specifically for mobile Internet devices (MIDs) and other Internet-centric computers arriving later this year.

This processor will be based on an entirely new microarchitecture designed specifically for small devices and low power, while maintaining the Intel Core 2 Duo instruction set compatibility consumers are accustomed to when using a standard PC and the Internet.

This chip will be less than 25 mm², making it Intel’s smallest and lowest power processor yet.

Devices that use an Atom processor, a low-power companion chip with integrated graphics, and Intel’s Wi-Fi and WiMax chipset will get a "Centrino Atom" sticker.

Intel expects to start producing Atom chips this spring.

Different Chips for Different Devices

Intel hopes the Atom processor will be used in a variety of computers, and it therefore will be available in multiple configurations.

Intel is calling the smallest of the products that could be based on an Atom chip a Mobile Internet Device (MID) — a portable device with a screen smaller than 7.5 inches used primarily to browse the Web. Probably the best current example of this is the Nokia N810.

Intel also hopes this processor will be included in low-cost laptops that emphasize Internet access. An example of this class — which Intel calls Netbooks — is the Asus Eee PC.

The desktop equivalent of a Netbook is being dubbed a Nettop.

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