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Intel picks ‘Atom’ as name for new chip family

Intel picks ‘Atom’ as name for new chip family



San Francisco: Intel Corp has picked “Atom" as the new brand name for its latest microprocessor.

The Intel Atom processor is the name for the new family of low-power processors, the brains of digital devices, that will power mobile Internet devices and ultra low-cost and small notebook and desktop personal computers.

Intel sees a big market for the Internet-connected devices that can fit in one’s pocket and for what it is calling the netbook, a low-cost PC costing around $250.

The Intel Atom processor is based on a new microarchitecture designed for small devices and low power consumption, Intel said. The chip is less than 25 square millimeters, and 11 of the chip’s dies -- the slivers of silicon with 47 million transistors each -- would fit in an area the size of a US penny.

The new chips, previously code-named Silverthorne and Diamondville, are made on Intel’s 45 nanometer chipmaking technology and slated for introduction toward the middle of this year.

“Diamondville and Silverthorne both represent an attempt by Intel to sell chips profitably for a whole lot less," said Nathan Brookwood, an analyst at market research firm Insight 64. “This is the first new processor design coming out of Intel since the Pentium Pro in 1995."

Atom joins other Intel brands including Core, Core 2, Celeron, and Xeon, names for other processors the Santa Clara, California-based company makes and sells.

Intel also announced the Intel Centrino Atom processor technology brand aimed specifically at mobile Internet devices. It was formerly code-named Menlow.

Centrino Atom includes the Intel Atom processor, a low power companion chip with integrated graphics, a wireless radio, as well as thinner and lighter designs.

Sean Maloney, chief sales and marketing officer for Intel, said that Atom 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."

Intel also said that Atom has potential for new sales dollars in consumer electronic devices and other gadgets, and said it was well positioned for growth in all of those segments with Atom’s low-power architecture as a foundation.

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