ARM gained a lot of confidence thanks to its success in smartphones, and as such it’s looking up in the food chain a bit at netbooks. The Cortex A9 is an out of order architecture that can work well in a power constrained environment like a smartphone. The beauty of a well designed OOO architecture is that it has more room to scale up than an in-order core. ARM has been working on pushing higher clocked, higher wattage A9 parts (1 - 2W) up into the netbook space with what’s now called a smartbook. Take a netbook, put some form of Linux on there, and make it even thinner/lighter and you’ve got a smartbook.

While not totally sold on the idea of smartbooks, Intel does recognize the potential need for something even thinner than a netbook with even better battery life. Intel is also unwilling to give cede this market to ARM. Moorestown would be perfect, however Intel wants to offer an advantage, not just an alternative. That advantage is x86, or more specifically, Windows support.

Moorestown can’t run Windows. It has no PCI bus, and without one you can’t run Windows. Oaktrail solves this problem.

Take Lincroft (Atom Z6xx series SoC) and pair it with a new PCH, codenamed Whitney Point and you get Oaktrail. Whitney Point is effectively Langwell plus SATA, HD Audio, HDMI and a bunch of legacy I/O (HPET, GPIO, RTC, DMA). Oaktrail is roughly the same footprint as Moorestown and although it’ll consume more power it’ll use less than Pine Trail.

It fixes the smartbook problem and you have the option of running Windows 7 on it if you’d like, something an ARM based smartbook can’t do.

Oaktrail is particularly impressive in how quickly Intel decided to execute the project. The whole thing will have taken Intel less than 12 months, which shows an unusual amount of flexibility for such a large company. With Oaktrail (and if you remember, with Atom), Intel acted more like a startup than a mature company.

Oaktrail will be ready in Q1 2011.

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  • n0nsense - Tuesday, June 1, 2010 - link

    Lol, I'm running Win 7 at work on C2D with 4Gb of ram.
    It occupies ~50GB of HDD.
    And it still sluggish. I have to admit that it's best desktop OS MS ever produced and I'm impressed with results of my "Windows uptime experiment" that is currently at 119 days point.
    But I can't imagine someone sane will want it on underpowered in order architecture like Intel's Atom.
    It will be nightmare. ARMs are better in every way. Especially because they are NOT x86. It is legacy that wasting huge part of Intel's Atom silicon (it is ~10% of desktop C2D if i remember correctly).
    And Linux is not as bad as MS wants you to think about it. It is actually much better :)
    You will always have something like Android to say "It's not Linux" :)
  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, June 1, 2010 - link

    I hope you accidentally added another 0 in there. A Win7 install (even 64-bit) is under 10 gigs. You can't count 40 gigs of stuff in your User folder against Windows...

    As it stands though I agree, it shoudn't be anywhere near a smartphone/sub-netbook.
  • n0nsense - Tuesday, June 1, 2010 - link

    Of course i'm talking about 7 + Office and other stuff :)
    Clean installation is almost 20GB (including page file)
  • dananski - Tuesday, June 1, 2010 - link

    Why not ask work for an SSD? You could easily justify the cost in terms of time saved.

    I think the idea with the Atom processors is that a few generations in, they won't feel particularly performance-constrained (for web browsing anyway), so why not make it nice and easy for people to run whatever OS and applications they want on it? In the meantime, just bear with these early prototypes.
  • yanfei - Sunday, July 25, 2010 - link

  • Rainman200 - Tuesday, June 1, 2010 - link

    Anand you seem pretty hyped on Intel going up against Arm but to me it looks like a dead end.

    Intel's Moorestown allegedly needs a highly optimized software stack (hence MeeGo) in order to reach it's power targets, who's going to want to run a slow Oaktrail processor with limited battery life running Windows ???

    There is also the many issues surrounding Intel's SoC's as they are positively draconian compared to Arm's licensing terms

    Google's ChromeOS is really the only viable option for Arm smartbooks as Google has the power to push it as a platform (vanilla linux has no chance), as it's processor agnostic there is little point in putting anything x86 in what should be a very cheap computer with limited capabilities.

    If you really need x86 you can buy a netbook. I cant see why most manufacturers would want to trade an Arm SoC for an Intel SoC, sure there will be a few and "it's faster" may appeal to tech nerds but that is a sure fire way to go out of business.
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, June 1, 2010 - link

    The EE times article you linked to is armchair speculation. The author hasn't seen the terms intel wanted and was just guessing at possible reasons why it might've flopped. If you have an actual citattion for the terms or of a hardware vendor balking at them please provide it. Otherwise don't state your guesses as fact by backing them up with someone elses guesses.

    My suspicion is that it's v 1.0 platform issues both software and in that Intel's implementation used 3 more discrete chips than competing arm platforms and the SoC companies wanted someone else to take the risks in fully integrating it first.
  • Death666Angel - Tuesday, June 1, 2010 - link

    First of all, Android is based on Linux ;). Secondly, if you have a C2D and 4GB of Ram and it still isn't running well, I would look into an HDD upgrade. Or possibly check if everything is configured correctly.

    Personally, I look forward to all the development being done with Tablets, Smartbooks, ARM/Tegra2 vs x86, Touchscreens etc. and will wait till there is a good variety of devices around with a few reviews as well. The theory surrounding Andorid 2+ and Win7 on those things is pretty intriguing. But no one should get their hopes up too high :D.
  • n0nsense - Tuesday, June 1, 2010 - link

    I know what Android is, but the average Joe does not :)
    "Linux" as a term, used for frightening housewives by some groups of people. So Android marketing was to keep it's Linux backbone as quite as possible. People like it :)
    I don't think that there any problem with HDD, as at home i do dual boot (Win 7 with Gentoo). The home monster is liquid cooled C2Q @ 3.5GHz + humble 8GB of DDR2 1066 and an SSD.
    It still sluggish in my eyes. Probably since I'm used to responsiveness of Linux in general and my very optimized Gentoo build :)
    I just hate that moment when "it decides to think about something" . you can make a cup of coffee, come back and it will be there again for you.
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, June 1, 2010 - link

    That sounds like jack booted thug security software corporate IT loves to blight systems with.

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