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

    O yes, they do ... :( and it hurts ...
    But the real killer is MS Office 2010. If you leave open document, next morning login will take forever.
    Anyway it's better then XP. So it can be considered as real upgrade by all means.
  • Strunf - Tuesday, June 1, 2010 - link

    I have the same configuration and my windows 7 PC is blazing fast, tried Linux on it once and changed back faster than it took me to install it... but then again on the realm of the internet anything is possible!
  • n0nsense - Tuesday, June 1, 2010 - link

    It can happen :)
    Each cooking pot has its cover.
    That is the best thing about freedom. You have the freedom to try and choose what is best for you :)
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, June 1, 2010 - link

    I'm running win7 on an atom without any problem; and have ran it on systems as low speced as a p3m-800 with 768MB of PC133 ram and a vintage HD. The only problem I had on that system was that the ~5% CPU idle kept the CPU out of its most efficient power savings states and took about 40% of the tablets battery life. The 10% performance hit from the Z6xx's low power process does not strike as a major concern.
  • n0nsense - Tuesday, June 1, 2010 - link

    I did it to X31 - became useless piece of plastic :)
    It's not important if you can install it (You can install Linux on 386/486). The question is how usable your installation compared to other options ;)
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, June 1, 2010 - link

    Aside from the power consumption level on the tablet (IIRC the handwriting recognition module was the primary offender here) I had no complaints about usability on either system.
  • ajuez - Tuesday, June 1, 2010 - link

    You can find a comparison of an Atom processor vs an ARM Cortex-A8 in Bright Side Of News:

    The conclusion: "The ARM Cortex-A8 achieves surprisingly competitive performance across many integer-based benchmarks while consuming power at levels far below the most energy miserly x86 CPU, the Intel Atom.
    However, the ARM Cortex-A8 sample that we tested in the form of the Freescale i.MX515 lived in an ecosystem that was not competitive with the x86 rivals in this comparison. The video subsystem is very limited. Memory support is a very slow 32-bit, DDR2-200MHz.
    Languishing across all of the JavaScript benchmarks, the ARM Cortex-A8 was only one-third to one-half as fast as the x86 competition. More troubling is the unacceptably poor double-precision floating-point throughput of the ARM Cortex-A8.
    However, new ARM-based products like the NVIDIA Tegra 2 address many of the performance deficiencies of the Freescale i.MX515."
  • michael2k - Tuesday, June 1, 2010 - link

    ARM will have dual and quad core ARM CPUs (well, Samsung, NVIDIA, Apple, etc) to fight off Oaktrail.

    Everyone wins :)
  • Rick83 - Tuesday, June 1, 2010 - link

    As far as I know it's pretty much the state of the art when it comes to timing?
    Especially on mobile platforms, where cpu-clock varies a lot, a fixed HPET-clock is quite a boon.
    I suppose what you mean is that these previously desktop only features/interfaces are no being ported to handheld platforms, but "legacy" goes quite a bit further.
  • carlosminem - Wednesday, June 2, 2010 - link

    No matter how you approach it ARM is bound to win in all categories upto (including ) netbooks. all these machines are about browsing and Always-On/Always-Connected and some low end integrated HW features like video ... you need:
    1. simple , low cost , low power architecture
    2. performance good enough. no one wants to run matlab or spice on a netbook or a smartbook
    3. and finally - away from monopolistic x86 policies that we witnessed over and over again by intel.

    This last item is the biggest reason why so many companies turn to ARM even for the gray areas( like pads). If you are an OEM , the last thing you want is to get your hands chained to the intel monopoly.

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