Intel Atom Bay Trail: the first new Atom in five years




The end for the old Atom

Intel has in the past five years to get to know. Many of its Atom processor The chip was ever developed for netbooks. When it appeared that that category slowly died, Intel decided to build the chips used in tablets and smartphones. That worked partly. There is a handful of phones and tablets with Intel hardware released, but the company has not yet broken. Especially on the Android Market The arrival of Windows 8 tablets until the end of 2012 led a resurgence in the last Atom sell.

Bay Trail All these years is the basis of Atom hardly changed. The original processor design from 2008, called Bonnell, has over the years here and there refined, but major changes in architecture level found no place. Intel worked mainly on reducing the size of the chip. There was also tinkering with the GPU side and energy. The old Bonnell Atom is now fully developed and completely milked, Intel can have anything any more.

Time for a successor and so coming this fall in the form of a new processor design that will be used in different system on a chip for both tablets and smartphones. The new architecture is called Silver Mont early 2014 and will take place in the Merrifield-soc its way to smartphones. This autumn, the Bay Trail-socs for tablets and cheap notebooks already out.

In this article we focus on the Bay Trail-soc and we look at the various soc variants, the new processor architecture, the new Intel GPU and the improvements in terms of energy use has been made.


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Seven different Bay Trails

Intel has big plans for Bay Trail. The SOC should not only be used in tablets, Windows and Android, but the chipmaker also sees opportunities at the bottom of the notebook market and even the desktop market. The tablet versions will be on the marketed under the famous brand name Atom, the Z3000 series. For notebooks and desktops using Intel’s Pentium and Celeron trusted labels.

The tablet version there are a total of seven variants, there are versions with two and four cores. The quad cores will be used for high-end Windows or Android tablets, while cheap dual cores are likely to be deployed. In budget tablets with Android and small image diagonals All are made with Intel’s tri-gate process to 22nm, which is also used in the Haswell chips for desktops and notebooks. That alone is a big advantage over the old Atoms, which were still made at 32nm.
Bay Trail

Intel builds the processor side of Bay Trail on modules of two CPUs, which together have access to 1MB of L2 cache. According to Intel, this is the most efficient option to share, as it can be. Quickly shared with multithreaded computations information via the L2 cache between the two cores, the cores The quad-core variants feature two of this type CPU modules, while the dual-core versions are logically only have one. The modules are connected to the Silver Mont System Agent, a north bridge kind which, among other things, the memory controller, the GPU, the ISP, and the video decoder are connected.

Bay Trail die-shot

This shot of a quad-core version

The most powerful model is the Z3770, which has four cores at up to 2.4 GHz and has a bandwidth of 17.1 GB / s, thanks to the dual-channel memory controller, which is in contact with lpddr3 memory. Bandwidth that allows the soc able to screens with a resolution up to 2560×1600 pixels to control. There can be up to 4GB of memory, though slightly less effective because of available, because the soc initially will work. In 32bit mode
Z3770 Z3770D Z3740 Z3740D Z3680 Z3680D
Number of Cores 4 4 4 4 2 2
Clock max 2.4GHz max 2.4GHz max 1.8 GHz max 1.8 GHz max 2GHz max 2GHz
Memory Type lpddr3-1067 DDR3L-RS-1333 lpddr3-1067 DDR3L-RS-1333 lpddr3-1067 DDR3L-RS-1333
Bandwidth 17.1 GB / s 10.6 GB / s 17.1 GB / s 10.6 GB / s 8.5 GB / s 10.6 GB / s
Max. memory 4GB 2GB 4GB 2GB 1GB 2GB
Max. resolution 2560×1600 1920×1200 2560×1600 1920×1200 1280×800 1920×1200

The soc itself is incidentally 64bit, more memory can be controlled, so technically but Windows 8 there would still not prepared. Early 2014, according to Intel that will be the case. Then come true in theory devices Bay Trail-soc and more than 4GB of memory.

At the other end of the spectrum has the Intel Z3680. This has two cores, can handle only 1GB memory and has less memory bandwidth. He therefore has a maximum output resolution 1280×800 pixels, making this chip is for example suitable to be used. In cheap 7 “tablets
A new gpu

The first Atoms used a GPU that Intel had homemade, but had an Intel GPU design in-licensed from Imagination Technologies. For the last few iterations Also include Samsung and Apple use the PowerVR GPUs. With the move to Silver Bay and Mont Trail is Intel went back to a GPU that is developed entirely in-house. It is a variant of the HD4000, same GPU as Ivy Bridge, but with 4 instead of 16 execution units. That means that most modern APIs, which are DirectX 11 and OpenGL ES 3.0 support, and modern encoders and decoders for the most common video formats are present.

The Silver Mont-core closer look

Intel has focused on the development of the Silver Mont-core say primarily focused on screwing the single threaded performance. To own Although multithreading in some situations can yield significant performance gains, the company believes that most usage scenarios for smartphones and tablets still rely heavily on tasks that can be. Not easily processed by different threads

During the development of Silver Mont Intel has decided to remove. Support for hyperthreading Via hyperthreading enabled the old Atoms in some cases different processing threads per processor. Hyperthreading does require additional transistors and that means that the chip is bigger. In Silver Mont Intel wanted the space that would otherwise use.

Intel Silvermont slides
Intel Silver Mont slides Intel Silver Mont slides Intel Silver Mont slides Intel Silver Mont slides

The biggest change in architecture level is the switch to out-of-order instruction processing. This means that instructions are not always in the order in which they arrive are processed. In cases where two successive instructions to wait on each other, the processor independent instructions prioritize, which improve efficiency. The old Atoms had an in-order design, which the instructions were always processed in the order in which they came.

The order of processing instruction is not the only thing changed in the Silver Mont-design. The obsolete front side bus is finally sent into retirement and instead communicate the various components of the chip now connect through in that, we already know of Intel’s desktop and notebook chips. This should significantly reduce latencies. Further, the branch predictors increases, there is more L2 cache, the execution units are present, and re-designed. In addition, the chip on instruciesetniveau placed on a level with the Westmere generation from 2010. This means that Silver Mont chips coped with the instruction set extensions sse 4.1, 4.2 sse, popcnt and aes-ni.

Intel Silvermont slides

Atom that until now has not been broken has little to do with raw power, that had the old version compared to the competition namely sufficient. Intel’s Achilles heel was the energy management. Recently we saw that even the Asus PadFone and the MeMO Pad FHD 10. Both feature an Atom, respectively Medfield and Clover Trail + platform, and neither scored resounding in our battery tests.

With Bay Trail, Intel to own say a lot of power to get it done in order, but we do not have hard numbers yet. No manufacturer of mobile chips here incidentally gives detailed data on, so unlike desktop and notebook chips we know nothing about the TDP of the new Bay Trails. However, we partially know what Intel has adapted to minimize power consumption. Within the limits

First of all, can be of almost all parts of the soc voltage and clock speed regulated separately. At low load, for example only one CPU core are active while the rest is sleeping and the clock rate of which some core can vary, depending on the load. The same applies to the GPU. This is not new; competition applies similar techniques.

Bay Trail – CPU en GPU Power sharing Interestingly, Intel is working with a shared power budget. There is a maximum amount of power the various soc parts may consume together, but how it is distributed among themselves, is variable.

The starting point is that everything is active. The four cores are then taxed the gpu is at work, the camera is activated and the screen is on. However, is one of those variables away, then decrease the total energy consumption and total heat generation. That creates room for another component to run. Harder For example, it should be possible for a single processor to temporarily shoot. From above the upper limit of 2.4 GHz How far can go the clock, let Intel not know. That is hard to say, because everything depends on the total energy intake and the heat is then developed.
Bay Trail – power states

Compared with the competition

On paper, the new chips, especially the fastest variants, formidable competitors for the top models of chip designers Qualcomm and Nvidia. There are as many cores as present at the competition, but they overclocked Intel higher. In addition, data can be quickly pumped back and forth through the greater memory bandwidth. We must of course say that it is somewhat comparing apples to oranges, an x86 processor delivers per clock tick is not the same performance as an ARM core. In the past we have seen, however, that Intel had an edge here and it is likely that she will retain. With Bay Trail

The course medal performance also has another side: the software. Especially under Android, much depends on the Dalvik VM, the Java code shows which apps are written. Although Bay Trail is on paper so more than powerful enough looks, stand or fall performance in practice the extent to which Intel has optimizations to the software side in order.
Intel Atom Z3770 Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 Nvidia Tegra 4
Core Design Silver Mont Krait Cortex A15
Production Process 22nm 28nm 28nm
Number of Cores 4 4 4
Clock max 2.4GHz max 2.3GHz max 1.9 GHz
Memory Type lpddr3-1067 lpddr3-800 lpddr3/ddr3l
Bandwidth 17.1 GB / s 12.8 GB / s 14.9 GB / s

On the GPU side is even more difficult to say how different socs relate to each other, because each manufacturer uses a totally different Achitecture with varying clock speeds.
What does Intel?

Intel does moreover itself enough statements about the relative performance of the Bay Trail-socs. The company has estimated that the Z3770 is less than 60 percent faster than the Snapdragon 800 and 33 percent faster than the Tegra 4. If you read the fine print, it appears that it is a benchmark that has been optimized for Intel CPUs, the scores of the two ARM socs not measured, but are estimated. The other benchmark scores that Intel presents, so we take with a grain of salt.


It is Intel with Silver Bay Trail Mont and clearly mean business and that is understandable. After all, the PC market is shrinking and for mobile devices continues to show strong growth. Intel will also benefit them. On paper, the new Atoms at least impressive. It is interesting to see that on Intel single-core performance has directed and seems like a good choice. Using multithreading, you can easily increase the power, but users note a tablet or mobile phone probably more high single-threaded performance.

According to the manufacturer, the Bay Trail-socs are faster than what the competition has to offer. That seems quite likely given the information released, though we do not attach much value to the benchmarks of Intel. There is, moreover, compared with the current high-end Nvidia and Qualcomm, while companies also have new products in the pipeline.

More interesting than the performance, however, we find the power consumption, because that Intel should have well in order to really participate effectively. Over there is still little to say, although it is clear that Intel has put great strides since the previous Atoms. It is of course helped by the 22nm process, while the competition is still on 28nm. Next year Intel makes the move to 14nm, while chip manufacturer TSMC, which Qualcomm and Nvidia use, then goes to 20nm.

The biggest challenge will be on the Android market, because the majority of Windows tablets Bay Trail will use, do we dare to predict. On the Android market, Intel first convince companies that switched to his chip is worth the time and effort. In addition, Intel will have to ensure that the software integrates seamlessly with his new hardware. If that, then companies like Qualcomm and Nvidia to fear than before. Much more from Intel

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