What Intel’s New Silvermont SoC Means for Your Next Smartphone and Tablet


Intel makes processors for all kinds of notebook, desktop, workstation, and server computers. They make excellent products that power the world — well, the world outside your pocket anyway. Intel’s chips are conspicuously few and far between when it comes to smartphones and tablets. That’s something they hope to change with their new Silvermont SoC.

Silvermont is the code-name for an upcoming line of chips from Intel. According to their documents, chips based on the Silvermont architecture will run up to three times as fast as their current models, handle up to eight cores, and some could operate on five times less power when compared to today’s chips. The way Intel plans to get Silvermont to do all that is with their 22nm process and Tri-Gate transistors, which have been tuned for SoCs.

Rather than building “out”, like others are doing, Intel is building “up”, enabling them to cram more transistors onto their chip. Intel also addressed battery life, something we’ve been fairly vocal about here at Pocketnow. The Silvermont architecture includes a dynamic stand-by mode which will be dynamically adjusted to handle the processing power that’s needed when it’s needed, and is able to determine thermal and electrical properties of the system for better efficiency. Put another way, Silvermont was designed with mobile in mind.

As we reported earlier, Silvermont will be used in Intel’s Bay Trail SoCs, which are quad-core chips that could be popping up in tablets by the end of 2013. Other than that rough date, Intel isn’t being very talkative about when we’ll get to see Silvermont in a product that we can go hands-on with.

What Silvermont Means for Tablets

Intel has teased that Silvermont may first come to tablets or “Android-powered notebooks” with a keyboard. The big news here is their potential price, which could be around US$200. There are currently very few notable Android-powered tablets in the $200 price range.

If Intel’s price point becomes a reality rather than a talking point, tablets and ultrabooks could get the boost they need while also seeing a drop in price and increased availability. This has huge potential implications for Windows 8 tablets.

What Silvermont Means for Smartphones

Smartphones are the Holy Grail for Intel. They’ve been missing out on the mobile game for years and years. On the surface that’s not a bad thing since they still have their desktop and server processors to keep them afloat. As soon as you realize how quickly smartphones and tablets are replacing traditional laptop and desktop computers, it’s easy to see why Intel needs to have a strong performer on mobile devices — and soon! Even former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich agrees (though he doesn’t know what to call them), smartphones have the potential to change the way we do business and the way we “work government”.

A Silvermont-powered smartphone could be even faster than today’s phones, or it could use significantly less power (probably not both) — that is, if the marketing hype is more than just “hype”. More importantly, it means that if Silvermont is successful, ARM will have a competitor, and companies making SoCs based on ARM technologies will have another point of reference. Both of these will eventually equate to better and faster chips — regardless of who makes them.

Image Credit: Intel


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About The Author
Joe Levi
Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy".By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video.Read more about Joe Levi here.