According to VIA's recently revealed processor roadmap, the company will begin mass producing dual-core Nano CPUs in June of 2010. The late entry would appear to give Intel a significant head start, as the chip maker has already launched its dual-core Atom 330 CPU. But unlike Intel's chip, VIA's dual-core Nano will zero in on both netbooks (notebooks) and nettops (desktops) instead of strictly nettops.
However, Intel might still beat VIA to the punch with Pineview, the company's dual-core Atom part with an integrated graphics solution. That is, if Intel makes the new chip available for netbooks. If not, Intel would be leaving the door open for VIA to step in as the only one to offer a dual-core solution for the uber popular netbook sector. Moreover, despite Nano's lack of penetration thus far, benchmarks typically show the chip outpacing Intel's Atom, albeit while also consuming more power.
Meanwhile, it seems nobody knows exactly what AMD has planned. The chip maker previously announced it was skipping the netbook market, but at the same time would target mini-notebooks. Should the markets overlap, or if AMD has a competitive change of heart, it could make for an interesting three-way battle royal.
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.
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?
The ultraportable craze has been nothing short of ultra popular, and it might get even better next month. While Intel senior VP Pat Gelsinger was delivering his keynote during IDF on Monday, Cnet claims an Intel employee spilled the beans on the company's plans to offer up a dual-core Atom in September, a move that would make the Nettop market even more popular than it already is. Specifics weren't disclosed, but if earlier reports hold true, look for the new hyperthreading-capable chip to come clocked at 1.6GHz per core on a 533MHz front-side bus with 1MB of L2 cache.
Dunnington and Nehalem
On a more official note, Intel revealed plans to also offer its six-core Dunnington server processor in September, which will be the last member of Intel's 45nm Penryn family. And while on the topic of cores, Intel also showed the first eight-core Nehalem chip. Gelsinger said the new chip will be a monolithic design with all eight cores crammed onto a single piece of silicon. Tasty!
Asus' Eee PC is quickly becoming the iPod of the ultraportable market, and if the latest rumor turns out to be true, it will even have an assortment of accessories to go along with the low power notebook. According to German site Eee PC News, Asus will soon add an attractive looking external hard drive that connects via USB. But that's not all. The site also shows photos of an external optical drive and a 3G connection card called the T500, which also looks to fit into a USB port.
If true, add the peripherals to the growing list of Eee branded products. And if not, props to a damn convincing Photoshop job.
If Asus was feeling lonely in the subnotebook sector with its Eee PC, they needn't feel that way anymore. MSI, Acer, ECS, and Everex are just a handful of manufacturers to jump on to ultraportable bandwagon looking to cash in on the Netbook craze, and now Gigabyte joins an increasingly crowded list, but with a twist. Literally.
Like so many other ultraportables, Gigabyte's M912V features an Intel Atom processor, but unlike the competition, Gigabyte stuffs the chip into a Tablet PC. This gives users the ability to swivel the 8.9-inch touch screen display a full 180 degrees to lie flat on the keyboard. Other goodies include:
1GB DDR2 memory
160GB SATA hard drive
802.11b/g wireless, Bluetooth
3 x USB ports
Windows XP, Vista Home Basic, or Linux
If PCLaunche's prediction holds true, look for the M912V to debut later this month for $699, not much less than a standard low-end to mid-range notebook. Do ultraportables hold enough appeal to compete in same price sector as their more powerful (and physically bigger) brethren?