Intel launches new Tolapai system-on-a-chip design
Written by Daniel   
Thursday, 24 July 2008 10:53
Intel launches new Tolapai system-on-a-chip design

By Joel Hruska | Published: July 23, 2008 - 11:01PM CT

Intel launched its new embedded x86 system-on-a-chip (SoC) today, and in doing so, moved a small step closer toward eventually competing head-to-head with ARM. Formally, the new SoC platform is known as the Intel EP80579 Integrated Processor Family, but the project was code-named Tolapai, and that name trips off the tongue more readily. Tolapai isn't just a new integrated SoC; it's Intel's first volley into a mobile and "embedded" market space that the company believes will grow enormously in the coming years. Unlike how ARM and other companies use the term, when Intel talks about "embedded systems," the company isn't just referring to point-of-sale terminals or industrial applications, but to a category of what it refers to as mobile Internet devices (MIDs). The term MID, in Intel parlance, isn't just a reference to a form factor, but an expression of what a device is (or isn't) capable of. According to Doug Davis, vice president of Intel's Digital Enterprise Group, MIDs should deliver the "actual" Internet experience. When asked to clarify, Davis stated that the word actual referred to "the ability to run the Internet applications that are typically developed for the IA architecture (i.e., Core 2 Duo, Centrino)."

From Intel's perspective, pushing x86 technology into such mobile Internet devices makes perfect sense. Non-x86 processors and system-on-chip (SoC) parts based on ARM, MIPS, and PowerPC architectures still hold a significant power consumption advantage over any hypothetical x86 SoC, but that once-insurmountable gap has narrowed recently by process shrinks and power optimizations. At the 65nm process node, Intel still won't be close on power consumptions, but things start to get interesting at 45nm, and really interesting at 22nm. But more on that later.

Intel claims that the EP80579 is an entirely new design, so let's take a peek inside.   [ARS Technica...]   [Comments...]

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