Intel has been rumored to be working on dual-core Atom processors for netbooks, and within the past few days, Intel CEO Paul Otellini confirmed that the company will indeed be bringing this product to market this coming year.
Currently, Intel produces the 1.6GHz Atom 330 microprocessor and rumor on the street is that Intel’s new dual-core processors will join the Atom 500 series of chips. These new chips will have integrated memory controllers and integrated graphics, and potentially support 720p.
According to Otellini, “there will still be significant growth in the netbook business year-over-year.” The dual-core Intel processors will be released in the second quarter, right before the holiday season. Netbooks featuring dual-core chipsets are expected to start selling before the end of the year.
Korean manufacturer Raon Digital’s recently released Everrun Note is a bringer of new things indeed. The dual-core CPU of the new netbook will run AMD’s 1.2 GHz Turion X2 in favor of the all-too-common Atom, the Intel chip that has all but owned the market thus far.
Weighing in at 1.6 pounds with a 7-inch display, the new Raon computer is one of the tiniest on the market. The display, however, is an exceptional 1024 x 600, the same as by similar netbooks with even 10-inch screens. To compare, the 7-inch ASUS Eee PC displays a mere 800×480 pixels.
And the best part? The display is a touchscreen. This feature, until now unheard of on netbooks, is a fun addition to the miniscule device. An optical nub acts as a mouse with two buttons to the side for navigation.
The usefulness of the dual core in such a tiny machine is somewhat questionable, but by no means unwelcome. I imagine prospective users will want to plan exactly what they’ll use the added power for, that they not waste their money.
The only downside here (you knew it was coming) is of course the price. An Everrun Note configured with the Turion X2, a 60GB HD, and no OS costs a whopping $799. It’s another 50 bucks for Windows XP Home Edition. If you move up to the 24 GB SSD and XP Pro the price goes all the way up to $999, far beyond the range of most netbooks on the market.
Another option is the entry level model featuring a Sempron chip, 16 GB SSD, and Ubuntu Linux. This version is $659, closer to a standard price but still high-end.
Despite the exorbitance of the price, I’m still interested by the tiny machine. While sacrificing some of the affordability that has until now defined the netbook category, the Everrun pushes the boundaries of what is possible with a netbook by giving it some fancy features and excellent capacity.
PC Pro’s recent test of the new dual-core Intel Atom chip showed it to be only a marginal improvement over the previous single-core model. While it gained much hype at its announcement last August, the new test may temper much of the enthusiasm about it.
Called the Intel Atom 330, it has a 533MHz FSB but runs at the same 1.6 GHz as previous iterations of the chip. While clearly faster than the now-standard Atom N270, it has not met expectations completely.
The results of the test showed the chip to be a mere 16% faster than the previous one.
It is important to note that the device tested was only a desktop version, not a netbook-ready version. As such it is as of yet impossible to determine how battery life wil be affected by the 330. Energy efficiency is obviously a crucial for netbooks, so if the 330 turns out to weigh down on the battery, manufacturers and consumers will be likely to pass it on.
Read more about the test here.
In other news, check out Larry Digman of ZDNet’s article concerning recent confusion over AMD’s announcement about the netbook market (which we covered in our November 13 article):