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Will Intel’s Atom overhaul fuel another netbook boom?

December 22, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Intel is revamping its Atom processor platform in a move that will yield more powerful netbooks, better efficiency and smaller designs. Will Intel set off another netbook boom?

On Monday, Intel made its overhaul of its Atom platform official (statement, Techmeme). The biggest item is that the Atom will integrate graphics with the CPU for the first time—something the Federal Trade Commission may notice. Intel said the new Atom has lowered power consumption by 20 percent from the previous generation. Meanwhile, there’s an army of netbooks set to be released Jan. 4 at the Consumer Electronics Show.

The chip giant notes it has 80 design wins lined up. Simply put, there’s another armada of netbooks coming your way—and maybe even a few desktops.

Intel’s new Atom processor, the N450 rides shotgun with a new chipset designed to lower power. Atom also has a lineup for entry level desktops—the D410 or the dual core D510. Atom’s role for the desktop will be to facilitate smaller designs, fanless units and unique all-in-one PCs.

Also: Gallery: Intel’s new Atom promises better netbooks

Here’s the overview:

And how the latest Atom platform compares to the previous version:

The big question here is whether netbooks 2.0 will get the reception the devices did the first go round. Will netbooks see their first upgrade cycle? Will netbooks increasingly be seen as laptop replacements?

The answers to those items are a bit unclear. The new netbooks will use Windows 7, Windows XP and Intel’s Moblin operating system. For definitional purposes, Intel defines the netbook turf as devices with 7 to 10.2 inch screens.

There have been some passionate arguments for the death of the netbook. But those arguments go against the shipment tide.

Intel has been very clear about setting netbooks off from traditional laptops, but you have to wonder whether that distinction can continue going forward. If Atom is good enough for small desktop designs why wouldn’t it work for a larger laptop?

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