It’s no secret that Intel’s Atom chips are a bit on the slow side. While we certainly like the battery efficiency, a bit more power would be great. It appears Intel is willing to appease us, and the announcement may come on Monday. Intel is expected to introduce the Pine Trail based Atom N470, which will be nearly the same as the N450, but clocked at 1.83GHz instead of 1.66GHz. We also heard a while back that the N470 netbooks would be allowed double the memory of the N450 units. We'll have to wait until Monday to see if that's still the case. It’s not a lot, but with Atom right at the edge of usability, every little bit helps.
Atom chips have been in high demand ever since netbooks took the PC market by storm. Atom offers lower power consumption than the previous low-power solution, the Core 2 ULV, but lags behind in processing power because of it. The N450 was released late last year, and quickly found its way into consumer products. Intel expects an equally speedy adoption of the N470. No word on if you will pay much of a premium for the new Pine Trail chip.
Gateway jumps on the Intel Atom N450 bandwagon by introducing the LT21 series netbook. As with most netbooks rocking the newly minted Atom chip, battery life benefits the most, with Gateway claiming up to 10 hours of run time.
"Netbooks have been firmly embraced by consumers as an incredibly convenient, easy-to-use way to stay connected, be more productive, and stay in touch," said John Nguyen, product marketing manager for Gateway. "Gateway LT21 Series netbooks are designed to go anywhere for use by anyone, as their sleek form factor and intuitive design naturally fit into how people live and connect today."
The new netbooks check in at 2.76 pounds and measure about an inch thick thin. Hardware will vary by model, though Gateway did provide specs for one model, the LT2118u. In addition to the Atom N450, this 10.1-inch model will come with 1GB of DDR2-667 RAM, 250GB hard drive spinning at 5400RPM, Intel GMA 3150 graphics, multi-card reader, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, multi-gesture touchpad, webcam, 6-cell battery, and Windows 7 Starter.
Gateway says the LT21 series will be available later this month starting at $300. The aforementioned LT2118u will run $350.
Intel earlier today announced its next-generation Atom platform, and no sooner had the press release hit the news waves, Dell followed suit by being the first to announce a refreshed Mini 10 netbook lineup sporting the newly minted Atom N450 CPU.
Other updates to the Mini 10 include a new design with a choice between "a broad range of optional colors or hundreds of optional custom artwork designs," as well as a smudge-resistant palm rest and sculpted keys, and longer battery life with up to 9.5 hours of run time (with optional 6-cell battery).
Other specs include a 10.1-inch display with standard (1024 x 600) or HD (1366 x 768) resolution, 1GB of memory, choice between 160GB or 250GB hard drive, and choice between Windows 7 Starter, Windows XP Home, or Ubuntu.
Dell says you can expect the redesigned Mini 10 to be available in early January starting out at $299.
It looks like the elves in Intel's workshop have been working overtime this holiday season, enough so that the chip maker today officially announced its next generation Atom platform, which includes the first Intel chips to integrate graphics and a memory controller in the CPU.
On the netbook side of things, the new Atom platform consists of an Atom N450 processor. It's a single-core part clocked at 1.66GHz with 512KB of L2 cache and a 7-watt total TDP. For entry-level desktops, there's the single-core D410 (1.66GHz, 512KB L2 cache, 12-watt TDP) and dual-core D510 (1.66GHz, 1MB L2 cache, 15-watt TDP). Intel says both processors were designed from the ground up for small devices and low power usage, and both come built on the company's 45nm high-k metal gate manufacturing process. These chips will run in Intel's NM10 Express Chipset.
An industry first on x86 processors, the new Atom chips integrate both the memory controller and graphics into the CPU. By going this route, Intel reduces the number of chips from three (CPU, chipset, I/O controller hub) to two (CPU, chipset), which the company claims results in a lower TDP, and "substantial reductions in cost, overall footprint, and power."
Intel said it will announce pricing information when the platform ships in the first week of January.
It doesn't matter how good you've been all year, Santa won't be placing an Atom N450-based netbook under the Christmas tree this year. But on the bright side, you may not have to wait long. According to reports, Asus, Acer, Lenovo, and MSI, all of which originally planned on launching Atom N450-based netbooks this month, will release the units on January 11, 2010.
The decision to hold off until then complies with their agreement with Intel to only launch the products after January 10. There will be three versions of Atom N450-based netbooks using different OSes, the most popular (and expensive) expected to be Windows 7 Starter. The other two include Moblin Linux and Windows XP Home.
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.
Intel is poised to phase out their Atom N270 CPU soon, thanks to the launch of its successor – the Atom N450.
The Atom N450 (codenamed Pine Trail) will be a single core CPU with built-in northbridge functions, and will work in concert with the brand new NM10 (Tiger Point) chipset. Intel will issue the last order notice for the N270 in Q1 of 2010, and the CPU will fully phase out by Q2 of 2010.
It’s expected that the N450 will launch in October of this year at the very earliest.