I was recently reminded of Jen-Hsun Huang’s comments on the Atom processor’s prospects for use in mobile applications. As reported in Laptop Magazine, Jen-Hsun said, “You could give an elephant a diet, but it’s still an elephant.” Although Jen-Hsun was commenting on the prospects for Intel’s Moorestown version of Atom in mobile SOCs, the same comments apply to most embedded applications where Paul Otellini, Intel’s CEO, has recently said Moorestown will play.
Take Smart TVs for instance, where Intel has been pushing the Atom-based CE4100 as the future of the connected TV. Although touted as cost-effective and low power, the Atom CPU used in the 4100 is fully 3 times larger in terms of silicon real estate versus MIPS’ latest fully synthesizable high end core—the 1074K Coherent Processing System (CPS). And the 1074K delivers nearly 2.5x the performance compared to Atom. Perhaps the most interesting thing is that for this application, Intel, the perceived processor ‘King’, actually provides less performance per square millimeter of silicon, or per miliwatt of power, than MIPS.