Atom processors to affect both VIA and SiS as Intel preps own-brand mobos for embedded markets
Monica Chen, Taipei; Esther Lam, DIGITIMES [Thursday 6 March 2008]
Amid the announcement of Intel's new low-power processors, Atom, and corresponding platform for mobile Internet devices (MIDs) and Internet-centric computers, sources at Taiwan motherboard makers have revealed that Intel is planning to also introduce Atom processors along with supporting motherboards for the embedded market soon, a move which is likely to impact both VIA Technologies and Silicon Integrated Systems (SiS).
The new Atom processor will come in two versions, single-core and dual-core, and so Intel has codenamed their respective motherboards Little Falls and Little Falls 2, the sources revealed. Little Falls will hit the market in the second quarter, followed by Little Falls 2 in the third quarter. Both will be targeted at low-cost PCs, embedded systems and set-top boxes (STBs).
This dual-core Atom, dubbed Diamondville-DC, supports a core frequency of 1.87GHz and a maximum TDP of 12W. The processor will include 512KB of L2 cache and support Intel's own 945GC northbridge and ICH7 southbridge, the sources detailed. The sources further revealed that the dual-core Atom will be available in a socket-less ball-grid array (BGA) package.
The specifications, features and positioning of Little Falls will put the platform in direct competition with the embedded businesses of both VIA and SiS, the sources warned. VIA's C7 processors and chipsets are likely to see a direct impact, the sources remarked, citing the competitive performance that Little Falls should deliver. Meanwhile SiS may see its status as an alternative Intel platform chipset supplier diminish as Intel puts more focus on its own products, the sources noted.
Responding to the speculated concern, SiS said Intel will support both its own platform as well as SiS's 671, although the company admitted that Intel will put priority on its own in-house parts.
In addition to Intel rolling out own-brand motherboards, the sources noted that leading motherboard makers including Asustek Computer, Gigabyte Technology and Micro-Star International (MSI) are all planning to support Little Falls 2, mostly in mini-ITX form factor motherboards.