Intel is currently working on a new Atom chip architecture, codenamed "Silvermont". This new architecture goes beyond the Ivy Bridge with 22nm 3D Tri-Gate transistors. The new Google Chromebooks use Atom processors, but the Silvermont architecture speeds things ahead by two generations. Continue past the cut for more details.
The new Silvermont "micro-architecture" is scheduled to ship in 2013. When this is combined with the 3D transistors, it is expected to enable new levels of integration and performance and make major power efficiency progress.
Silvermont will be a system-on-a-chip (SoC) design, like all Atom processors going forward, and like the processors found in smartphones and tablets. Intel has put Atom on a fast track, and will accelerate the Atom processor roadmap at a pace faster than Moore's Law. That law generally states that the number of transistors on a chip will roughly double every two years. But Atom SoCs are now at 45nm, and are moving to 32nm later this year. The Silvermont SoCs combined with the new architecture will be shipping in two years, so this adds up to three process generations and one new architecture in under 3 years.
According to CNET, "The Silvermont architecture will be designed specifically to take advantage the 22-nanometer technology and 3D transistors, according to sources." Intel is facing competition from many directions these days, not just from AMD, but also from NVIDIA, especially with that company's acquisition of Icera. Also, Apple has talked about dumping Intel for ARM in its Macbooks.
We will likely hear more about plans for the Atom Soc at Intel's analyst meeting next week.