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.
Intel's Atom platform has been such a resounding success, one has to wonder what the No. 1 chip maker has planned for a follow-up. You don't have to wonder anymore, as Intel this week officially unveiled 'Pine Trail', the codename for Atom's successor.
The CPU used in Pine Trail, called 'Pineview,' moves the memory controller and GPU onto the same die as the CPU. This means Pine Trail will be a two-chip solution, one less than Intel's current netbook platform. In theory, this should result in cost savings and lower power consumption.
Pineview is being built on a 45nm manufacturing process. Intel hasn't said what type of memory controller it will use, though previous speculation pointed to single-channel DDR2. But what's most interesting is how the war between Intel and Nvidia is shaping up. Like Pine Trail, Nvidia's Ion platform is also a two-chip solution and will have had time to mature by the time Pine Trail debuts later this year. Performance looks to be better on the 9400M-based Ion as well, but Intel's price structure for selling standalone Atoms could put Nvidia at a disadvantage. Moreover, what chips will Nvidia use once Intel makes the move to a CPU+GPU solution?