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2008 will defiantly go down in technology history as the year of the netbook. Ultra portable PC’s defied the economy and helped push sales of notebooks beyond that of desktop’s for the first time in history. Netbooks have been thoroughly reviewed here at Maximum PC (see December 2008’s issue) and it’s clear from the both the comments, and the activity in the forums that those who are holding out are doing so primarily for one of two reasons.
1.) The form factor is too small.
2.) The machines are underpowered.
Though not much can be done to address the first complaint, the second will likely become a moot point in 2009. This is the year we will start to see dual core and graphics accelerated netbooks go main stream. With the Intel Atom 330 already launched, the stakes will be raised considerably with new offerings from both VIA and AMD. As disappointing as this must be for AMD, it appears as though the VIA offering will be the strongest Intel competitor, but this may change closer to launch. The VIA 3000 family will be an X86-compatible processor based on its existing Nano 1000, and 2000 series platform. What promises to give VIA the edge over AMD however, is compatibility with the SSE4 instruction set. This will give them a substantial performance boost in many processor intensive tasks.
To be fair, little is yet known about AMD’s offering and more details are likely to be released at CES next week. What we do know is that two new processors under the code names Caspain and Consesus have been added to the company’s roadmap. We also know that despite the fact that AMD claims it has little interest in netbooks, these chips are the closest competitor to the Atom we can find from the AMD camp. One thing is certain, by late 2009 or early 2010, netbook shoppers are going to have a lot more choices. And as we all know competition will go a long way towards helping to drive down prices.
What would it take to make you consider a netbook?