The Intel Atom and Intel i5 are two processor, or central processing unit, lines from semiconductor company Intel Corp. The Intel Atom, debuting in 2008, is specifically made for relatively small electronic products, especially small laptops known as netbooks. The Intel i5, which arrived the following year, functions as the mid-range offering of the company's premier Core brand of consumer-oriented CPUs -- applied on desktop and laptop personal computers. At the time of publication, the Atom and i5 are in their second generation of production, yielding 45 and 40 chips, respectively.
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The Intel Atom is a single- or dual-core chip, which means that it has one or two processor units. The Intel Core i5 division offers dual- and quad-core entries, which makes it a more powerful CPU. Each Intel Atom uses the 45-nanometer manufacturing process. While the first generation of i5 chips use this lithographic node as well, the second generation uses the 32-nm manufacturing process instead, making them smaller than the Atom CPUs.
At the time of publication, the processor speed range of the Intel Atom is 600 MHz to 2.13 GHz. The processing speed range of the Intel Core i5 is 1.06 GHz to 3.6 GHz. Regarding data transfer speed, the Atom offers a range of 400 million to 2.5 million transfers per second. The first-generational Core i5s stick to the 2.5 GT/s rate, although their immediate successors double it at 5 GT/s.
Cache and Power Consumption
Each Intel Atom and Core i5 CPU has caches, which are small memory units that the processor uses for high-speed access to the computer system's most frequently used data. The Atom has two caches, which are called Level 1 cache and Level 2 cache. The Core i5 has three instead, following the naming scheme of the Atom. With a peak power consumption range of 0.65 to 13 watts, the Atom is more energy efficient than the i5, which has an 18-to-95-W range.
Most Intel Atom and Core i5 processors have an Intel HD Graphics chipset, a built-in feature that provides graphics processing from the CPU itself. Also included is virtualization technology -- on most Atom chips but on all Core i5s -- for integrating multiple operating system environments into a single computer system. Intel adds Turbo Boost technology on the Core i5, thus giving the brand the ability to increase its processing speed when the operating system demands it for the absolute best performance.