It appears that, with Centerton, Intel will break away from the apparent habit of releasing SoC (system-on-chip) devices that aren't really SoCs.
'Centerton' is the name that Intel has decided to strap on the upcoming low-wattage Atom processing solution, the kind that will be used in NAS servers and the like.
We actually wrote
about this chip a few weeks back, but didn't go into much detail or specifically say how it differed from its predecessors.
In the past, the Santa Clara, California-based company used the “SoC” moniker for products that didn't quite fit the SoC definition.
More specifically, they weren't single-chip solutions, but platforms composed of two chips: the processor itself and the separate NM10 PCH (platform controller hub).
With the Centerton, Intel is moving closer
to the meaning of an SoC, building it as a true single-chip computing platform.
Centerton will have a core and an uncore component as part of the same piece of silicon.
The former is made up of two x86-64 cores, with 24 KB LI Data cache, 32 KB L1 Instruction cache and 512 KB L2 dedicated cache memory.
The maximum clock speed is 1.6 GHz and, considering the presence of HyperThreading, that should be quite a bit of horsepower for any NAS.
Also, any operating system (OS) with support for 32-bit or 64-bit x86 chips should be able to run on the Centerton.
The uncore half of the SoC contains more the memory controller, PCI Express 2.0 root complex (with 8 lanes), SMBus 2.0, high-speed UART and legacy I/O connections.
For those who want details, the RAM controller handles a maximum of 8 GB memory at 1.5V (with ECC) or 1.35V SO-DIMMs.
It bears noting that this segment of the market, or at least those devices that don't require 64-bit, is targeted by ARM as well.
Intel hopes that Centerton (with TDP of 5 to 8W) will land in microservers and other small systems, not just NAS devices (network-attached storage).