For the second year in a row, Intel is holding its spring Developer Forum in China as opposed to a San Francisco show, as had been tradition for several years. In another break from tradition, Intel's PC processors stepped aside and let the newest member of the product family, the Atom processor, take center stage.
Atom is the name for a family of mobile and embedded processors developed under the codename "Silverthorne". These chips are based on the IA-32 architecture, which is a few years behind the Core 2 architecture that forms the basis of every new Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) PC processor on the market.
Whereas Core 2 chips go in laptops, desktops and servers, Atom processors are designed for mobile Internet devices (MIDs), pocket devices, mobile phones, GPS systems and other consumer gadgets.
The company introduced five new Atom and Centrino Atom processors at the show Tuesday. Atom/Silverthorne is just the CPU while Centrino Atom/Menlow is the CPU and single-chip controller that features a high-speed controller and high definition video graphics processor.
This may be an embedded chip but with its x86 instructions it can run PC software, including Sun's Java and Adobe's Flash, in a Web browser. Intel Atom processors have a power draw ranging from only 0.65 to 2.4 watts and run at clock speeds from 800MHz to 1.86Ghz.