Intel's Atom chip is designed for a brand new market. But Intel already has excellent market saturation in the microprocessor arena for desktops, notebooks, and more; why mess with something that works? And will this new chip deliver where it counts? Read on to find out.
Intel has a broad range of products. Anything from the top of the line Extreme Edition quad core, down to a single Celeron. They have desktop chips, server chips, and mobile chips. You might think that there isn't any other market for Intel to get into. Well you are wrong.
Technology is constantly changing, and new devices are always coming around. In the past year a completely new type of computer has come around, the Ultra Mobile PC. Intel has recognized this new market; it's come out with a CPU designed specifically for UMPCs, the Intel Atom CPU.
What about XScale?
If you ever owned a PocketPC, PDA, MP3 player, Personal Video Player, or iPod, I'm sure you have heard of the XScale CPU. The Xscale CPU was made by Intel until 2006 when they sold that lineup. If Intel had a CPU made for mobile devices, why would they sell it, and then start over again? Intel said they were giving up on the XScale so they could focus on x86 chips such as desktop, mobile and server CPUs.
The biggest difference between the Xscale and Atom is that the Xscale is meant for handheld devices, and the Atom is a full-fledged x86 CPU, meaning it has the ability to run software just like a normal PC; it can even run Windows. The XScale processors do not have the x86 instructions; they use the ARM architecture.
It's not a big deal for mobile devices, since most are home grown by the manufacturer. But if you throw an XScale into a typical PC, it won't even boot up. The Xscale is a great CPU for handheld devices such as MP3 players; the OS of the device is typically home-programmed, so they are fine with using ARM architecture.
UMPCs, on the other hand, run native x86 instructions, such as those needed to run Windows. In this case, the ARM architecture isn't going to fly. I don't think you're going to get Microsoft to rebuild Windows for Xscale CPUs, plus the fastest are running around 600 MHz, so XP would be a push to run.
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