Intel plans to release a faster version of its "Pine Trail" Atom processor for Netbooks on Monday, bringing a little extra performance to this popular segment of the laptop market.
Major PC makers are expected to announce--over the coming weeks and months--new products or product refreshes with the new processor, the N470, which will be identical to the current 1.66GHz N450 but get bumped to a speed of 1.83GHz, according to a source familiar with the announcement.
Every little speed increase helps, as Atom processors, compared to their mainstream chip cousins, have always been performance-constrained. Intel uses a different chip architecture for its Atom processors that delivers better power consumption efficiency but lower performance, compared to mainstream Core 2 and Core i series mobile processors. And Atom processors used in Netbooks--small laptops typically priced lower than $350--are almost always single-core, compared to the faster dual-core processors used in mainstream laptops.
Intel's latest Pine Trail Atom processor, introduced late last year, squeezes the graphics function--previously on a separate chip--into the central processing unit.
In related news, Intel is on track to deliver a new "Moorestown" Atom chip targeted at high-end smartphones and mobile Internet devices probably by midyear. Intel, however, has put its Atom-based manufacturing relationship with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) on hold, as first reported by The New York Times.
One source familiar with the tie-up between the two chip-manufacturing giants said there has not been a lot of customer demand for chips--which were expected to go into handheld devices--jointly produced by TSMC and Intel. And finding the right mix of product, engineering, and intellectual property has been a challenge for the pair.
Updated on February 28 at 9:15 a.m. PST: Intel has posted a "bulletin" dated March 1 about the Atom N470 here.