updated 09:05 am EST, Mon December 8, 2008
Intel Atom 32nm PowerVR
Intel's Atom processor lineup may receive a significant graphics boost in the near future and a more efficient process in less than two years, according to a roadmap leaked by the Register. Intel's next-generation Poulsbo architecture for handhelds, headlined by the Lincroft version of the Atom processor, will reportedly drop Intel's in-house graphics hardware in favor of a PowerVR core integrated with the Atom processor itself. The claimed move would reduce power consumption without sacrificing too much performance and would specifically compete against ARM-based smartphones.
Notably, Apple's iPhone is one of the highest-profile users of both ARM and PowerVR and is capable of 3D and video decoding on the level of handheld game consoles.
Lincroft is designed to be one of Intel's first modern processors meant for devices as small as smartphones and will also contain its own memory controller as well as a native video encoder of its own to support cameras; it will also come with a separate controller codenamed Langwell that handles networking, peripherals and video.
The design will get even smaller in 2010, according to the roadmap. Intel is said to be developing a new Atom variant known as Medfield that would use the upcoming 32 nanometer manufacturing process to build Langwell's features directly into the main processor, creating a monolithic chip that handles virtually all functions itself. Analysts claim Intel will allegedly switch back to its own hardware by this stage.