Intel's new Atom chips bring 4K video to VR headsets, robots

Intel's new Atom T5500 and 5700 chips -- codenamed Broxton -- have Gen9 integrated graphics processors

In 2009, Apple CEO Tim Cook memorably trashed Atom-based netbooks for being "junky" hardware that underperformed. Intel's Atom chips have come a long way since, with the latest generation code-named Broxton boasting the most impressive improvements.

The new Atom T5500 and 5700 chips have features found in low-end PC processors, but the chips are instead targeted at robots, drones, wearables, and smart home devices.

A standout feature is 4K decoding and encoding capabilities, which could allow the chips to be used in virtual reality and augmented reality headsets.

Intel showed smart glasses, a bartending robot, and a smart motorcycle helmet with the Broxton chips at the Intel Developer Forum this week. Intel also said the chips could be used be in storage or media servers.

Earlier this year, Intel abruptly discontinued Atom chips for smartphones. At the time, Intel said it would stop developing Broxton chips, but the company appears to have changed its mind.

The target markets for Broxton chips aligns with the company's focus on the growing markets of virtual reality and the internet of things. Intel is trying to position Atom chips for devices outside of PCs, which have seen shipments fall.

But over the last few months, Intel has softened its stance on how it could use Atom chips. Broxton could be used in specialized enterprise tablets, and there's a remote possibility that device makers will use the new Atom chips in low-end or thumb stick-sized PCs.

The new Atom chips will support Windows 10 desktop, Windows 10 IoT Core, Linux, Android, and the VxWorks real-time OS.

You can get the new Atom chip through Intel's latest Joule developer board, which like Raspberry Pi 3, is targeted at people looking to build devices. The US$369 Joule 570x has a 1.7GHz Atom T5700 processor, 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM, 16GB of storage, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

The Joule could be an expensive, albeit excellent, media server with support for 4K and the latest Wi-Fi technology.

The T5500 and T5700 chips are based on Intel's latest Goldmont architecture, which will also be in upcoming Celeron and Pentium chips code-named Apollo Lake. The chips draw only six to 12 watts of power.

The 4K video capabilities come thanks to an improved Gen9 integrated graphics processor, which is also in Intel's current batch of chips based on the Skylake architecture. The chips can support up to three 4K DisplayPort and HDMI displays at a 60Hz refresh rate.

Visual computing is becoming important, especially with robots, drones, and self-driving cars relying on cameras for motion tracking and gesture and image recognition. The Atom chips have a next-generation image processing engine that speeds up visual computing.

There is also a 50 to 80 percent improvement in memory bandwidth compared to the previous Atom chip, based on the Silvermont architecture released in 2015, according to Intel. There is also support for error correction, which was previously available only on Atom server chips.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?