Intel talked up its next-generation mobile processors at a recent industry conference, and though no details on a specific SoC were revealed, the company did say the upcoming chips will use the same 22nm technology and Tri-Gate implementation as their flagship Core and Xeon processors for desktops and servers.
We covered the benefits of Intel’s Tri-Gate design in an article earlier this year. In a nutshell, it allows for more transistors to be crammed into less space, which proves incredibly valuable as fabrication tech continues to shrink, while reducing power wasting leakage and paving the way for increased performance. According to Intel, the move will account for performance gains between 20% and 65% compared to current 32nm SoCs, such as the Clover Trail chip inside Windows 8 tablets and the Medfield chips in Motorola and Lenovo phones.
Intel's biggest challenge in mobile has been to build chips that can rival the power efficiency of ARM-based processors. By staying ahead of the curve in process technology Intel can work its way towards that goal.
As you’d expect, Intel says the SoCs differ from the original CPU variants in that they'll be further optimized for low-power devices, with a mix of “high speed logic transistors, low standby power transistors, and high-voltage tolerant transistors” in a single package. The 22nm Atoms will be ready for high volume production in 2013.
Intel isn’t the only one working on 3D transistors for mobile chips. Both TSMC and GlobalFoundries are racing to offer the technology to fabless partners like Nvidia and Qualcomm, but neither is expected to be production-ready until around 2014 with their respective sub-20nm manufacturing process.