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Intel exec says Silvermont trumps ARM in power, performance

Agam Shah | June 7, 2013
Intel executive Dadi Perlmutter responds to ARM's claims of processor superiority over Silvermont.

Perlmutter said that improved performance per watt on Silvermont chips comes through improved circuitry and power management. Silvermont chips will be made using a 22-nanometer process that introduces a more efficient 3D transistor structure to pack in more circuitry while reducing the size of a chip.

Intel has a manufacturing advantage over its rivals, and its performance per watt will get better with its mobile chips code-named Airmont next year, Perlmutter said

At the same time, Perlmutter said his eye will not move away from ARM.

"I never ignore competition. If they don't do a good job now, they will do a better job next time. But we are not going to stand still," Perlmutter said.

ARM aims to catch up with Intel on manufacturing, working with third-party chip makers Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) and GlobalFoundries to get 3D transistors on chips over the next two years. ARM licenses its processor designs to companies such as Samsung Electronics, Apple, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments and Nvidia, which then get chips made by the contract manufacturers.

Going forward, more performance will be needed on chips with less power consumption, Perlmutter said. He rejected the idea of "good-enough" computing, saying tablets and smartphones could use more performance to make the user experience richer.

"This all requires computing. It's all going to be done in smaller form factors while not standing still on performance. It's just going to get better," Perlmutter said.

He said human interfaces, like voice interaction, gaming, 3D modeling and gesture recognition, will reach mobile computing devices someday. Intel will make mobile devices richer than just mundane e-mail and web browsing clients.

"Computers still struggle with basic voice recognition. Good enough computing? No way. It's good enough computing for what's being done today, but completely not good enough for where people will need to go," Perlmutter said.


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