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Intel to demonstrate Atom “Rosepoint” chips with built-in Wi-Fi and solar-powered CPUs at ISSCC 2012

The near-threshold voltage processors and Atom SoCs will be on display in San Francisco this week

Intel is working on a number of innovations these days and will reportedly be demonstrating some of them at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference, which is now taking place in San Francisco. The prototypes apparently include an Atom-based chip, codenamed “Rosepoint” that comes with an integrated Wi-Fi transceiver and an NTV processor functioning on solar power.

The engineers at Intel have obviously managed to overcome the hardships imposed by putting a wireless radio and a CPU together on the same die; the problem at hand being that both units emit radiation and might cause the other to malfunction. What is more, the company has presumably succeeded in digitizing the whole 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi radio and place it next to a low-voltage Dual-Core Atom central processing unit, thus creating the Rosepoint SoC.

It is thought that the chip is still just a research project, but its practical advantages might bring it onto the market sooner rather than later. Intel’s Chief Technical Officer Justin Rattner claims that when Rosepoint becomes available (which will reportedly happen by the middle of the decade) it will offer users “state of the art power efficiency” and “superior signal quality”.

The Mountain View-headquartered semiconductor manufacturer will also be bringing low-power processors to the ISSCC.  According to a TechWorld report, the maker did show such a chip (at last year’s Intel Developer Forum), powered only by the light coming from a reading lamp, that was capable of running a Windows PC.

Apparently, these chips are as big as a “postage stamp” and are fuelled by solar cells. Furthermore, the NTV (near-threshold voltage) CPUs supposedly have a power consumption of about 280 millivolts (when operating at 3MH) or up to 1.2 volts if the frequency goes up to 1GHz.

Intel CTO Justin Rattner was quoted as saying: “It's allowing us to make Intel's product more [power efficient] across the compute continuum while reaching appropriate performance levels”… "We are continuing to expand the use of these low-voltage techniques to graphics and memory. The technology can also be deeply embedded inside circuitry to bring more power efficiency to supercomputing.”

According to the manufacturer, these CPUs are not supposed to become commercially available but might be used in some of Intel’s future creations.


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Ivan Zhekov, 2012-02-21 (Update: 2012-05-26)