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?
Think Intel's Atom processor is only good for use in nettops and netbooks? So does Intel, who currently restricts the use of its low power processors to netbooks with up to 10.2-inch panels. But HP sees a bigger future for the Atom processor and is reportedly in discussions with Intel about using the chip maker's Atom CPU in mini-note PC models.
Asus and Acer lead the pack in netbook shipments and combined the two companies claim nearly 70 percent of the market, according to DisplaySearch. HP sits at a distant third with its Mini 1000 netbook, which managed to grab just 5.8 percent of the market in 2008. HP hopes to be a bigger player in the little notebook market by adding to its netbook line in 2009, including an 11.6-inch model in Q2 2009 and a 13.3-inch model in June 2009, DigiTimes says.
Negotiations between Intel and HP could reach a conclusion by the end of next month.
Many TVs with the new Intel Media Processor CE 3100, a SoC specifically designed for consumer electronics, will be showcased during the upcoming CES 2009. Intel had unveiled its new SoCs triggered at consumer electronics during the Intel Developer Forum earlier this year.
Yahoo doesn’t want the technology to be restricted to high-end TVs alone. Yahoo’s Patrick Berry, VP of its Connected TV Initiative, told Cnet that he expects internet-enabled consumer electronics devices to become commonplace by 2010.
As previous attempts at providing a rich internet experience through TV sets failed due to unpalatable intricacy of those ill-fated technologies, the two companies have tried to make the Widgets Channel as simple as possible.
Unlike in the desktop market where quad-core computing has become commonplace, the four-core revolution has yet to make any real headway into the mobile sector. That might change soon as Intel has launched an affordable quad-core mobile chip.
The new Q9000 processor comes listed at $348, which is far easier to swallow than the $1,038 asking price for the existing mobile quad-core QX9300, or $851 for the Q9100. To make the lower price point possible, Intel cut the amount of cache in half from 12MB (QX9300 and Q9100) to 6MB. The Q9000 races along at 2.0GHz.
Acer has already jumped on board as one of the first OEMs to announce a Q9000-based laptop, the Aspire 8930G-7665, priced at $1,800. In addition to utilizing Intel's new quad-core chip, the Aspire also comes with an 18.4-inch WUXGA screen and GeForce 9700M GT GPU.
In other mobile chip news, Intel announced a handful of new dual-core mobile processors. These include the T9800 (2.93GHz, $530), P9600 (2.66GHz, $348), T9550 (2.66GHz, $316), and the P8700 (2.53GHz, $241).
As if AMD wasn't already fighting an uphill battle, the market share slope just got a little steeper to climb. At the top sits Intel, who increased its market share of OEM PCs from 80 percent in August 2008 to 82 percent in December 2008, representing a 2 percent hike in just four months, says The Wall Street Journal.
To come up with the market share numbers, J.P. Morgan Securities uses a proprietary model which tracks semiconductor specifications at Dell and HP, the two largest OEMs, for notebooks, desktops, workstations, and servers. Because Lenovo-USA includes only corporate PCs, the OEM is excluded from the analysis. White boxes are also not included, which J.P. Morgan estimates accounts for 40 percent of the overall PC market.
As has typically been the case, Intel continues to dominate the processor landscape at Dell, increasing its market share from 95 percent in August to 97 percent in December of this year. The tug-of-war between Intel and AMD is a little more balanced at HP, with Intel increasing its share from 65 percent to 67 percent in the same time frame.
Intel's Atom processor has been a driving force in the chip wars, and for the first time appears in J.P. Morgan's survey. According to the report, the Atom chip accounts for 3 percent of the offerings from HP and Dell. AMD thus far has not made a push in the netbook/nettop sector.
Now that AMD has split into separate design and manufacturing companies, do you see the chip maker's fortune changing in 2009? Hit the jump and post your prediction.
With the release of Intel's Core i7 lineup, it appeared Intel and Nvidia might be on the path to patching up their relationship as the two finally came to terms with licensing Nvidia's SLI technology on Intel's X58 chipset. But don't call them BFFs just yet.
Nvidia recently announced plans to release its Ion platform, a low power netbook solution which would pair the company's GeForce 9400M chipset with Intel's Atom processor. According to Nvidia, users would be able to play popular games on the Ion platform, like Call of Duty 4. The only problem is Intel doesn't appear to have any intention of sharing its Atom processor with Nvidia.
According to DigiTimes, an internal statement distributed to hardware makers reiterated Intel's stance that its Atom processors would only come bundled with the chip maker's 945GSE and 945GC chipsets. The news site also claims Intel indicated it has no plans to validate the Nvidia MCP79 chipset on Atom-based platforms, nor does it plan to partner with Nvidia to support nettops or netbooks.
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.
If you're tired of tiny form-factor HTPCs run by underwhelming processors, the newest version of the Epson Endeavor ST HTPC is a shot of adrenaline. As Nexus404 reports, the new ST120, which measures only 75x185x195 mm (or approximately 2.95x7.28x7.68 inches), features powerful processing and movie playback power:
Core 2 Duo processor running at speeds from 2.26-2.8GHz
GM45 Express chipset
1GB DDR2 RAM with upgrade options to 4GB
80GB to 250GB SATA hard disk
Blu-Ray or DVD drive
So, what's the catch? Catch us after the jump to find out.
It looks as though Nvidia will finally find its way into netbooks, and without using any strong arm tactics. The graphics chip maker announced plans to pair its GeForce 9400M chipset with Intel's Atom processor in a new netbook dubbed Ion.
Nvidia's 9400M GPU is the same one Apple chose to use in its refreshed MacBook line. From a performance standpoint, Nvidia says its 9400M offers 5x faster graphics and 10x faster video transcoding than a typical Atom-powered netbook, and is capable of playing full-spec 1080p high definition video. Nvidia also claims you'll be able to play popular games on the Ion platform, such as Call of Duty 4.
"NVIDIA's Ion Platform transforms Atom-based PCs into capable mainstream gaming platforms," said Mark Rein, vice president of Epic Games. "Epic is excited about the growth potential offered by these new affordable premium PCs."
In addition to gaming and high definition content, Ion will be capable of handling Vista's full user interface, as well as Microsoft's upcoming Windows 7.
Look for the new graphically supercharged netbooks to appear midway through 2009 "within $50" of standard netbook pricing, Gizmodo reports.
According to Valve’s November hardware report, a majority of you gamers using Steam are favoring Windows XP, Nvidia graphics cards and Intel processors.
These numbers come as very little surprise. Windows XP has remained dominant for gamers due to a lack of any significant DirectX 10 enabled titles, Nvidia has been heavily strutting their stuff in the graphics game and Intel is up to their usual, benchmark-crushing shenanigans.
The exact numbers show that there really is a startling majority. 70 percent of users were running Windows XP, 65 percent viewing on Nvidia, and 64 percent thinking with Intel.
Be sure to check out the survey yourself and check out what piece of the pie you reside in!