Intel's mainstay Netbook chip is finding a home in desktops, underscored by recent announcements from Hewlett-Packard and Acer.
On Wednesday, details emerged of HP's MediaSmart Server LX195, a home server packing a 1.6GHz Atom 230 processor that's priced at $400 with 1GB of memory and a 640GB hard disk drive. To date, HP has been using Intel Celeron and Advanced Micro Devices' Sempron processors. (Note: update adds Intel Celeron.)
Earlier this month, Acer rolled out the Acer AspireRevo, a small, slick box that augments the Atom with an Nvidia Ion chipset to boost graphics performance. This is expected to be priced well under $300 for some models.
By design, Atom is a more power-frugal and, as a result, a slower processor than Intel's mainstream Core 2 chip architecture. HP, for example, markets its MediaSmart server as a storage hub, which typically doesn't require much processing punch. And Atom is cheap--the Atom 230 is $29, whereas comparative Celeron chips are about $34 but draw much more power. And mainstream Core 2 Duo desktop processors start at about $110.
Intel has long maintained that Atom has a place in so-called Nettops and, last year, brought out the dual-core Atom 330 specifically for this market.
This strategy was validated this week in Taipei, where motherboard maker ASRock was showing a desktop with a dual-core Atom 330 processor and an Nvidia Ion chipset. Asus is also expected to update the Eee Box line with a dual-core Atom processor.