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Intel unveils dual-core Atom

Aug 20, 2008 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 5 views

[Updated Dec. 1] — Intel has brought out a dual-core version of its Atom (“Diamondville”) processor for low-cost “nettop” PCs. The Atom 330 will ship initially in a low-cost D945GCLF2 mini-ITX board that has gigabit Ethernet, six-channel audio, eight USB ports, and PCI expansion.

(Click here for a larger view of Intel's D945GCLF2)

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Atom 330

Rather than announcing the Atom 330 on its own, the chipmaker leaked news of it in the context of its new D945GCLF2 mini-ITX motherboard. Announced at this week's IDF (Intel Developer Forum), the D945GCLF2 is an enhanced version of Intel's D945GCLF (“Little Falls”), an $80 product that made its debut in June with the then-new Atom 230 CPU.

While Intel provided only limited information about the CPU, here's what we know so far. Like the Atom 230, the Atom 330 uses 45nm technology, features a 533MHz frontside bus, and is designed to work with Intel's 945GC chipset (the 82945GC northbridge and 82801GB southbridge). Unlike the Atom 230, however, the Atom 330 features dual cores, plus second-level cache that has been doubled from 512KB to 1MB.

The D945GCLF2 mini-ITX motherboard
Source: Intel
(Click to enlarge)

Intel did not specify the Atom 330's dimensions, clock speed, or power consumption. But, the above picture of the D945GCLF2 suggests that the Atom 330 fits into the same 22mm x 22mm footprint as the Atom 230. Meantime, the new processor has been rumored to have a TDP of 8 Watts, twice that of its earlier sibling.

However much power it consumes, the Atom 330's will be a relatively minor contributor to motherboard TDP as a whole. That's because the relatively-thirsty 82945GC and 82801GB consume up to 25 Watts on their own, according to a previously published Intel roadmap. Reviewers have measured the D945GCLF's power consumption under load as falling between 50 and 60 Watts; for more details, see our earlier coverage, here.


As yet, Intel has made no claims about how much faster the Atom 330 is than the Atom 230. Regardless, purchasers of the new D945GCLF2 mini-ITX motherboard will be getting not only a soldered-on Atom 330, but also a variety of other enhancements, compared to the earlier D945GLCLF.

For example, in addition to the VGA output already featured on the D945GLCF, the D945GCLF2 now features S-Video output (though some early users are reporting s-video problems with Linux). Also, the board's Ethernet port now supports gigabit speeds, there is an additional serial port, and a front-panel header serves up six-channel audio.

Features and specifications cited by Intel for the D945GCLF2 include:

  • Processor — Intel Atom 330 dual-core CPU (clock speed unstated), with 82945GC northbridge and 82801GB (ICH7) southbridge
  • Memory — up to 2GB of DDR2 RAM, via single DIMM socket
  • Display — VGA or S-Video output (may not work under Linux), via integrated GMA950 graphics subsystem
  • Networking — Gigabit Ethernet, with RJ45 connector
  • Other I/O:
    • 8 x USB (4 on rear panel, 4 via headers)
    • 1 x serial (rear panel)
    • 1 x parallel (rear panel)
    • 2 x PS/2 ports for keyboard/mouse
    • audio mic in, line in, mic out on 3.5mm jacks
    • audio header for assignable front panel connections
    • 1 x IDE with UDMA 33, ATA66/100 support
    • 2 x SATA

  • Expansion — PCI slot
  • Dimensions — 6.75 x 6.75 inches
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 55 deg. C

Further information

Intel did not release pricing information for the D945GCLF2 but said it will be available worldwide in September.

Meanwhile, the company also used the IDF event to preview a variety of processors based on its new, “dynamically scalable” Nehalem architecture. For further information, see the coverage by our sister site, here.

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