Moorestown Won’t Run Windows, but Oaktrail Willby Anand Lal Shimpi on June 1, 2010 9:26 AM EST
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.