Intel recently announced it was fast tracking the release of its Pine Trail platform, which we expect to see sooner rather than later in 2010. We now have a little more info to share on this Atom platform replacement.
According to Fudzilla, Pine Trail will be significantly smaller when compared to Intel's current netbook platform, largely the result of moving from a three-chip design containing the CPU, Northbridge, and Southbridge, to a two-chip part with just the CPU and Southbridge. The end result is a 64-percent smaller package footprint.
Pine Trail will be designed on a four layer PCB, Fudzilla says, which will cut back on manufacturing costs. However, this doesn't mean that netbooks will become any cheaper in 2010, though you can probably expect vendors to squeeze in more features.
Finally, the Pine Trail platform will consume less power, about 20 percent less than Intel's Atom platform, which will pave the way for even longer battery life.
In what's turning out to be a game of cat and mouse, Apple last week disabled support for Intel's Atom processor through a Snow Leopard update, a tactic the Hackintosh community insisted would present only a temporary setback. They were right, thanks to a Russian hacker known as "teateam," who says he has restored support for Atom-based Hackintoshes running Snow Leopard 10.6.2.
"The problem originates in a revision to the kernel in 10.6.2. The changes Apple made to the latest mach_kernel removes support for [Atom] processors, leaving updated netbooks in a useless state," InsanelyMac member "blkhockypro19" explained in a forum post.
TeaTeam's hack appears to address the issue, though Jeff Porten of MacWorld warned that performing the crack is not something to be taken lightly.
"You'll need to roll up your Terminal sleeves for a few simple steps here," said Porten. "And, of course, replace the kernel of your operating system -- the fundamental code that underlies everything else in Mac OS X -- with a file you've downloaded from the Internet."
Not only that, but it's only a matter of time until Apple releases another update that, in all likelihood, breaks support again. Apple hasn't been sympathetic to the Hackinstosh community, and even went so far as to serve Wired.com a cease and desist order after the tech site posted a video with instructions on how to hack a netbook to run Mac OS X.
Asus said it was switching to Nvidia's Ion platform for future netbooks, and making good on that promise, the Eee PC maker on Thursday announced the Eee PC 1201N Multimedia Netbook.
Up until now, a multimedia netbook could be considered an oxymoron, if not a cruel joke, but that certainly isn't the case here. Pushing the boundaries between a netbook and notebook, the 1201N sports a 12.1-inch LED display and comes built around Nvidia's pixel-pushing Ion platform. That's great for graphics, but it doesn't stop there. Instead of the ubiquitous Atom N270 processor found in most netbooks, Asus equipped the 1201N with Intel's Atom 330 dual-core processor.
On the storage front, the new netbook comes with a 250GB hard drive and 500GB of online Asus WebStorage. The online storage space is provided for free for the first year, and after that, you'll have to pony up for a subscription plan.
Other specs include 2GB of DDR2 memory, Wi-Fi, three USB2.0 ports, a 6-cell battery good for up to 5 hours of run time, and Windows 7.
Rumors of an Atom ban turned out to be true, as the Hackintosh community found out with the latest update to Apple's Snow Leopard OS.
"Well, looks like I was right, again," Hackintosh guru StellaRola wrote in a blog post. "The netbook forums are now blowing up with problems of [Snow Leopard] 10.6.2 instant rebooting their Atom-based netbooks. My sources tell me that every time a netbook users installs 10.6.2 an Apple employee gets their wings."
While the ban presents a temporary setback, StellaRola reiterated that "this is OSx86 after all," and predicted that a modded kernel is likely just around the kernel.
In the meantime, a user on the MyDellMini forum claims to have found a workaround that entails running 10.6.2 with a 10.6.1 kernel. The process involved booting from a backup, mounting the 10.6.2 partition, and punching in a few commands, all of which you can read here.
Expect to see quite a few netbook and nettop deals this holiday shopping season, especially if Intel forges ahead with plans to fast track the introduction of its upcoming Pine Trail platform.
"Intel is planning for a fast transition to Pine Trail. To generate excitement for the platform ahead of launch, Intel is planning a press release in late December publicly disclosing the details of the platform," X-bit Labs claims to have read in an Intel document.
Should Intel aggressively push Pine Trail ahead of its launch, consumers could see a fair number of pre- and post-Christmas day sales on older Atom platform-based netbooks and nettops. And look for plenty of coverage at next year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Intel's Pine Trail platform will include a bunch of next-gen Atom Pineview processors, which will come with an integrated graphics core, a built-in DDR2 memory controller, a new core-logic set, and other goodies.
The busy guys and gals over at Acer have put the final touches on the company's revamped AspireRevo R3510-U9012 "one-liter nettop." Kicking things up a notch over its predecessor, the refreshed PC now sports an Intel dual-core Atom 330 instead of a single core Atom 230.
It also comes built around Nvidia's Ion platform, 2GB of DDR2 memory, a 160GB hard drive, six USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI port, eSATA, WiFi, and Windows 7 Home Premium, fast becoming an obligatory OS in any new OEM setup. Not a bad spec sheet for a $330 nettop.
"The AspireRevo is a practical and highly adaptable nettop for the home -- powerful enough to take on games but so thin, it can be neatly hidden from view," said Susan Hu, Desktop Product Manager for Acer America. "It's also energy-efficient and quiet."
One of the coolest features of the AspireRevo is its ability to connect to the back of an LCD or TV panel with a VESA attachment. In essence, you could turn your swank LCD HDTV into a respectable all-in-one. And did we mention it's only $330?
To kick off the new year, Intel plans to start shipping its Atom N450 processor clocked at 1.66GHz, which is slightly faster than the 1.60GHz Atom N270. At $64, it's also slightly more expensive by a couple of Hamiltons.
But if you're holding out for a faster Atom chip, you may consider waiting until March when Intel starts selling its Atom N470 chip for $75. The upcoming part will kick things up a notch with a 1.86GHz clockspeed, or 200MHz faster than the N270. That's a pretty significant boost in the Atom world, even if the amount of cache (512KB) remains unchanged.
Both new chips will fit in the same FCBGA8 socket that current netbooks use. That means you can also expect some new desktop Atom chips in the pipeline, though details are scarce at the moment.
Forget about underpowered netbooks and nettops, Vstone may have the best idea ever for Intel's Atom platform. Meet Robovie-PC, a new hobby humanoid robot kit built around Intel's Atom Z530 processor (1.6GHz). Armed with a highly scalable embedded PC, the Atom-powered robot can connect to the Internet and be programmed to take shots with its 1.3MP camera.
Fully assembled, Robovie-PC stands about 15 inches tall and weighs a little under 5 pounds. It (He?) boasts 20 degrees of freedom, plus pretty good mobility thanks to the gear interlock parallel link mechanism used in the legs. But should Robovie-PC walk right off your desk, the squishy polyurethane foam that makes up the exterior body should keep it from shattering like Humpty Dumpty.
Other specs include VGA output, USB ports for mouse and keyboard, wireless LAN card, and compatibility with Windows XP, Vista, and Linux, with support for Windows 7 coming soon.
The only place you can pick one up right now is in Japan, where Robovie-PC runs about $4,440.
Now here's something we never expected to see: a dual-processor netbook! A dual-core netbook, sure, but two physical processors? That concept hasn't even caught on with power users on the desktop segment, so how can Haleron, maker of the two-chip Swordfish Net 102 Dual Netbook, expect it to be a hit with mainstream users who value battery life above all else?
Price, for one. At $450, the 10.2-inch netbook manages to stay within netbook pricing territory, even if it does rock out with two Atom chips. The rest of the specs are about what you'd imagine from an upper-tier netbook, including 2GB of DDR2 memory, a 160GB hard drive, WiFi, built-in 3G module,1.3MP webcam, and Windows XP.
Haleron doesn't make any claims towards battery, and with just a 3-cell battery, we don't expect a whole lot. Even still, color us intrigued, if not mystified.
Intel showed off a new version of Moblin today for use in Atom-based mobile phones. Moblin is Intel’s compact Linux distro for netbooks. This tweaked version of the OS, Moblin 2.1, is said to have heavy social networking integration (and what doesn’t these days?), widgets, and a panel based interface. Intel claims to have heavily modified the user interface specifically for mobile phones.
The demo today was done on a MID and an Acer netbook. Those in attendance were not allowed to actually try the OS, but visual impressions were good. There are currently no Atom based phones available, and no specific devices were discussed.
A smartphone powered by an Atom chip would likely be considerably faster than today’s handsets. There is no information on when one of these phones might actually ship. So you’ll have to wait with bated breath.