Intel Brings Silvermont to Mobile Competition vs. ARM
Intel officials have argued that the company’s engineering and manufacturing prowess were significant advantages over rival chip makers, including Advanced Micro Devices and ARM. Silvermont exemplifies the argument, Perlmutter and Kuttanna said. Among the key innovations for Silvermont was the inclusion of Intel’s 3D Tri-gate transistors, first introduced in 2011 for the 22nm “Ivy Bridge” Core chips and now optimized for Silvermont. The transistor architecture helps drive performance and energy-efficiency improvements. In addition, a new out-of-order execution engine offers greater single-threaded performance by enabling the chip to execute whatever instructions are ready to run, rather than having to wait for each instruction in order. A new multi-core and system fabric architecture is scalable up to eight cores, while new Intel Architecture instructions offers improved performance as well as virtualization and security management. Intel also improved the microarchitecture’s burst technology, enabling the SoC’s CPU to temporarily operate at a faster level based not only on thermal headroom, but also electrical and power-delivery capabilities. In addition, the cores not only share power among each other, but also other components on the SoC, such as the GPU, enabling a greater distribution of power. Intel’s Kuttanna said the SoCs also are built using two-core building-block modules, with a shared L2 cache up to 1MB and a dedicated point-to-point interface to the SoC fabric. Scaling the SoCs means adding modules, he said.Kuttanna reflected on the company’s past attempts in the mobile space, and said the company is where it wants to be. “Now, with a better idea of the mobile space and its requirements, we’re taking advantage of what Intel can do,” he said.
The Intel officials said that with Silvermont, the company’s SoCs will exceed what ARM and its partners can do in terms of performance and energy efficiency, and expect the industry will start turning in its direction. Perlmutter talked about the increased interest among device makers after hearing about Silvermont and their interest in leveraging the microarchitecture across a range of systems.