Tuesday, December 27th 2011

Intel Centerton Atom A True Single-Chip SoC

Intel has, in the past, referred to its two-chip low-wattage computing solutions as "SoC" (system on a chip), keeping with that trend, it was assumed that "Centerton", an Atom-derived processor for NAS servers that the company is working on, could be a similar 2-chip solution with the tiny NM10 PCH sitting next to the CPU. It is now coming to light that Intel will design Centerton to run as a true single-chip SoC, without the PCH.

Centerton's core and uncore components, housed on the same piece of silicon, are detailed in the first picture, below. It packs two x86-64 cores. Each core has 32 KB L1I cache, 24 KB L1D cache, and 512 KB of dedicated L2 cache. There is no shared tertiary cache between the cores, however, they converge at the integrated memory controller (IMC). This IMC can control a single DDR3 memory channel, supporting 1.5V DDR3 UDIMMs with ECC support or 1.35V DDR3 SO-DIMMs, at speeds of PC3-10600 (DDR3-1333 MHz). Up to 8 GB of RAM is supported. The core can be clocked as high as 1.60 GHz. It features HyperThreading technology, enabling four logical CPUs for the OS to deal with. Any current 32-bit or 64-bit x86-capable OS should run.
The uncore component lacks a display controller, but features a PCI-Express 2.0 root complex with 8 lanes, which can be configured as 1*x8, 2*x4, 4*x2, or 8*x1, with some mix-match configurations being possible. This can then directly connect to storage, ethernet, and USB controllers of the NAS device. The uncore also features SMBus 2.0, and high-speed UART. Lastly, there are legacy I/O connections, such as LPCIO to the SuperIO chip, GPIO, etc.) The processor supports virtualization, but limited to VT-x capabilities. A fully-configured Centerton chip should draw 5.7W of power, with a TDP of 8.1W.
Sources: VR-Zone, MyDrivers
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8 Comments on Intel Centerton Atom A True Single-Chip SoC

Huh, interesting. I wonder what these cores compare to as far as the other Atoms are concerned. Is this a new architecture or just a rehash of the old but simplified to be single chip? I'm curious what the performance would be.
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Editor & Senior Moderator
iLLzHuh, interesting. I wonder what these cores compare to as far as the other Atoms are concerned. Is this a new architecture or just a rehash of the old but simplified to be single chip? I'm curious what the performance would be.
It's the same architecture as CedarTrail.
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I remember back when atom first came out everyone was so excited and thought it would change the industry. Whatever happened? Don't really see that many netbooks anymore. Maybe they will make a comeback with windows 8 on intel based tablets.
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Tablets happen. Because iPad and Galaxy Tab grab the market for themselves. For Internet browsing they are undisputed kings, their browsers are top-notch, hardware acceleration and everything. IPS screen is a lot better than a typical netbook LCD. Browsing the net on a 10" touchscreen seems to be intuitive and pleasant, where on a netbook you don't have mouse but a little 2" touchpad. 10 hour battery life for iPad is real, so is the instant on feture. Also HD media content has no problems beein displayed on tablets, but causing constant lagging on netbooks. Same is valid for 3D games. Hundred of thousands of great looking and sophisticated FPS, adventures, strategy, RPG, sports and racing games are available for tablets, where non can run on a netbook, ain't that a BEACH.
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Freshwater Moderator
R1 is right, tablets took over because netbooks became clumsiser to use as they got smaller.

same deal as consoles, with lower powered hardware a specially designed OS was needed to save system resources to get movie playback/flash etc working properly.

this is why W8 might be a good thing, as would x86 android - it could really shake up how OS's are designed and run on desktops, giving us a lot more bang for our processing power.
Posted on Reply
Well, Intel has x86 MeeGo, but not using it. So it is not only OS power savings involved, but CPU architecture itself. For instance ARM11 CPU core is less than 1mm^2@32nm. This helps Samsung to integrate everything in a single chip and stack RAM&NAND on top of it, enabling NAS functionality for a 2.5" HDD enclosure, where Atom is not a SoC and needs additional chips to operate as a computer system . Look at a cheap docking station from Seagate :

Posted on Reply
Too little too late as others have mentioned. If we had this 2 years ago, the avalanche of new galaxy, transformer and w/e tabs could have been running on intel right now...Too bad $ntel's board of directors cares only about making a quick buck and lacks any form of forward thinking.
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