VIA hopes its new three-pronged approach to the low cost computing market will be enough to grab some market share away from Intel, whose Atom-based systems have become synonymous with netbooks and nettops. VIA's calling its mini-ITX 2.0 form factor three-chip HD solution Trinity, which consists of the company's latest Nano x86-64 processor, VX800 IGP chipset, and discrete S3 Chrome graphics.
With the three technologies combined, VIA can boast an 800MHz frontside bus, DirectX 10.1 support, HD video, Blu-ray/H.264/MP4 hardware acceleration, HDMI output, and more, all while consuming less than 70 watts max, with 50 watts being typical, VIA claims.
Should VIA's Trinity solution catch on, Intel could be in for a slug fest in the low power computing market. Previous tests have shown VIA's Nano processor holding its own against Intel's Atom chip, and VIA's platform reportedly runs cooler. On the flip side, Nvidia has recently announced plans to jump into the netbook sector by pairing its 9400M chipset with Intel's Atom processor.
So you opened your advent calendar today, and what did you find? A new episode of the No BS Podcast, of course. In our penultimate podcast of 2008, we find time to not care about Apple’s recent announcement that they’re pulling out of Macworld Expo, discuss the merits of Nvidia’s new Ion netbook platform, and speculate about what we’ll see at CES next month. Join the podcast gang as we send off this past year (next week is a special all-rant edition), visit the lab, and answer your tech questions.
Do you have a tech question? A comment? A tale of technological triumph? Just need to get something off your chest? A secret to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our 24-hour No BS Podcast hotline at 877.404.1337 x1337--operators are standing by. For the love of all that's holy people, if you guys don't start asking tech questions, we're going to change the name to the Nothing But Undead podcast...
Earlier this month, rumors surfaced suggesting that Intel and Nvidia have been working together to enable Nvidia chipset support for the Atom platform. Asus, Gigabyte, and MSI were each said to be ready to take advantage of the possible collaboration. But the melding of an Nvidia foundation with Intel's Atom processor hasn't yet taken place, and now it appears Nvidia, who previously said it was taking a wait and see approach to the netbook market, is getting antsy to make something happen.
According to DigiTimes, Drew Henry, GM of Nvidia's MCP business, recently took a trip to Taiwan in an attempt to convince Taiwan PC makers to support forcing Intel to allow Nvidia's MCP7A and MCP79 chipsets into Atom platforms. Henry acknowledged the high price-to-performance ratio inherent with Atom processors, but said that limiting the chips to 945GSE and 945GC chipsets will stagnate future development.
With Intel seemingly in no hurry to bring Nvidia on board, Nvidia is pressuring PC makers into demanding that Intel sell them only CPUs instead of bundling CPUs and chipsets together.
Intel’s most recent processor roadmap, released earlier this week, reveals their plans for technology extending all the way into the 32-nanometer realm.
The roadmap reveals some new codenames for the world to gawk at, including Medfield, which is slated for 2010, and it’s predecessor, Pineview, which should be on its way for a 2009 release. The two processors are still based on 45-nanometer technology, much like today’s Atom processor.
Pineview might be housing Intel’s own graphics processing technology, right on the chip.
The Medfield chip would be part of a new generation that includes the processor, memory controller, multimedia functions and I/O into a single chip. It’s also reported that battery life of netbooks that include the chips will have their battery lives drastically increased.
Analysts have been speculating for almost a year now on the future of netbooks, and if this new category of ultra mobile PCs would ever threaten sales of their larger form factor brethren. Intel’s Vice President of sales and marketing Stu Pann has weighed in on the issue, and he states in no uncertain terms, netbooks will never replace laptops. According to Pann "If you've ever used a Netbook and used a 10-inch screen size--it's fine for an hour. It's not something you're going to use day in and day out."
Maximum PC readers have spoken out in the comments, and the forums with similar concerns, but somehow it seems a bit more shocking to hear it from Intel itself. Many have questioned the reason for Intel’s statement given that they seem to be denouncing a market for which they are almost single handed responsible for creating. Then again, Intel is pretty much free to say anything it wants given that competition from VIA is slowly fading away and AMD isn’t even interested in competing. AMD has openly criticized the form factor and has made it clear that they don’t see a future in netbooks. According to AMD netbook return rates are disproportionately high as disappointed consumers come to grips with the hype not living up to reality. So what do you think of ultra portables? Will the dual core models make a difference?
While Intel's Atom chip has been finding its way into nearly every netbook release, AMD has been playing it conservative by taking a wait-and-see approach. At this point, it's not hard to see that netbooks are here to stay, and AMD finally looks ready to capatilize on one of the hottest tech fads of the year.
According to AMD's updated processor roadmap, the chip maker is primed to target mini-notebooks and netbooks with a pair of new processors called Caspian and Conesus. Both are 45nm parts and built using the same architecture as the company's just-released Shanghai chip and both will be dual-core parts with an integrated DDR2 memory controller.
Caspian, which will find its way into ultraportables, will come with 2MB of cache compared to 1MB on Conesus. The latter will also utilize a BGA package so that it can fit into the limited space netbooks afford. Even still, AMD chief executive Dirk Meyer contends that netbooks aren't going to be the company's focus.
"First order, we're ignoring the netbook phenomenon," Meyer said, "concentrating on PC notebooks above that form factor.
Huh? Randy Allen, the senior VP of AMD's Computation Solutions Group, clarified Meyer's curious statement by saying AMD will cede part of the netbook market to Intel, particularly Mobile Internet Devices. "We won't be going to the bottom where Atom is going," Allen said. Allen further stated that customers of the Yukon netbook market don't want a "compromised PC exeprience."
Intel's Atom processor has become almost synonymous with low power netbooks and nettops, but there are other players eager to make their presence known. Chief among them is VIA, whose Nano processor might even be faster than Intel's Atom, clock for clock. Obtaining vendor support has been a problem for VIA, but that could change as Acer gears up to launch a low-cost and low-power nettop in early 2009.
Acer says it will likely surpass its goal of 12-13 million Aspire one netbooks shipped in 2009. The high demand has the company thinking about alternatives to Intel's Atom processor for its upcoming nettop so as not to eat into its Atom processor supply. Both VIA and AMD are being considered, says DigiTimes, though the company also hasn't ruled out sticking with Intel's Atom chip.
Acer's indecision doesn't stop at the processor. The company is also mulling which manufacturer it wants to produce the nettop. The three possible options include Quanta Computer, Wistron, and MSI.
Netbook manufacturers like Asus, MSI, Acer, and all the rest aren't the only ones benefiting from the recent craze in low power, ultraportable notebooks. Underneath the vast majority of netbooks and low-cost desktops sits an Intel Atom processor, demand for which has contributed to record growth in the processor market in Q3 2008.
According to a new report by the IDC, overall CPU shipments for PCs and servers jumped nearly 16 percent in the third quarter compared to one year ago, just over half of which is directly attributable to Intel Atom processor shipments. Without the demand for Intel's Atom processor, IDC says the market would have only grown 7.5 percent.
Whether or not the numbers present a wake-up call to AMD remains to be seen. Intel's rival chip maker has previously stated it would take a wait-and-see approach to the low-cost netbook market, saying "we are watching that segment rather than playing in it, but as it matures we'll see where it goes." But AMD might not want to wait too long. Helped in part by demand for the Atom processor, Intel increased its market share in processor vendor shares by 1.1 percent earning 80.8 percent of the market, while AMD finished with 18.5 percent, representing a loss of 1.2 percent.
Hit the jump and tell us if you think AMD should be paying more attention to the netbook market, or continuing to focus on being competitive on the desktop front.
If you were raised on Far Cry, Athlon 64s, and Britney Spears, you probably never heard of Packard Bell. But for the slightly more ripened generation, we can remember PB as a prominent OEM up until it packed its bags and skipped out of the U.S. market nearly a decade ago.
But the company didn't disappear, and instead has maintained a presence in Europe. And like everyone else that manufacturers PCs, Packard Bell is prepping a jump onto the increasingly crowded netbook bandwagon. PB's calling its entry the "dot," which will be an 8.9-inch ultraportable with a full install of XP.
At its core, the dot comes built around an Intel Atom processor. Storage duties will be handled by a 160GB hard drive and 1GB of memory. Optional add-ons include a 6-cell battery, webcam, and a 3G module. After plugging in the exchange rate, the dot looks to sell for $584 USD in Europe this November.
Any guesses as to who will be next to offer up a netbook?
Back in June, we reported Intel's dual-core Atom processor had been postponed until September, and since that time, the company's single-core variant has enjoyed widespread success in the nettop world. Demand has been so high that there was speculation of an Atom chip shortage, ultimately prompting a response from Intel.
September has arrived, and as predicted, Intel has now officially begun shipping its 45nm dual-core Atom processor. Intel says the Atom 330 has been designed specifically for nettops. The new chip cranks out 1.6GHz per core supplemented by a very modest 1MB of L2 cache. The 8W TDP chip supports DDR2-667 and is being made available as an integrated package validated with Intel's 945GC Express Chipset.
Is this the chip you've been waiting for before picking up an ultraportable?