Monday, December 21, 2009

Intel reveals information about future Atom chips

Intel's next range of Atom chipsets seem to be ready to take Nvidia Ion head on. The new lineup will be smaller, faster, will reduce the average power consumption by as much as 20%, and are expected to be available as early as January of 2010. However the best feature of these chips is the integration of a GPU.

As previously reported, Intel's latest N450 processor and NM10 Express chipset--technology that had been previously referred to as "Pine Trail"--will be used in a new raft of Netbooks that will debut at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. Hewlett-Packard, Acer, Dell, Asus, Toshiba, Lenovo and others are expected to either announce new systems before the show or exhibit new models there.

Intel said there will be more than 80 new Netbook designs--typically priced around $350--on the way, with systems coming available by January 4.

The Pine Trail design squeezes the graphics function, previously on a separate chip, onto the central processing unit, or CPU, a first for Intel. The result--by decreasing the number of chips from three to two--is a reduction in the overall chip package size by 60 percent.

Intel expects robust growth ahead for Netbooks. Nanduri cited numbers from ABI Research that show Netbook annual shipments reaching 100 million units sometime in the next three years. Since introduction, Intel has shipped more than 40 million Atom chips for Netbooks to major PC makers.

Intel is also launching a new Atom processor with two processing cores, the D510, which it is targeted at entry-level desktops and replaces an existing dual-core Atom. Also, a new single-core D410 design is being introduced.
New Atom processors:
• N450: 1.66GHz, 512KB cache, DDR2-667, TDP: 5.5W
• D510: 1.66GHz, 1MB cache, DDR2-800/667, TDP: 13W (2 cores)
• D410: 1.66GHz, 512KB cache, DDR2-800/667, TDP: 10W
(Note: the DDR2 number suffix refers to memory speed; TDP = Thermal Design Power; W = watt.)

By providing a more integrated solution than NVidia's Ion Platform -- which offers Nvidia's mobile graphics chipsets with the the Intel Atom processor -- it is clear Nvidia has some tough competition ahead.

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