Much like the Vodafone iPhone price plans, we didn't expect to hear anything on this until 2010...
So catching everyone out today is FTC embattled chip giant Intel which has formally announced its next generation line of Atom processors. Much had already been leaked about these little fellas, and most of it turned out to be on the money such as a 45nm manufacturing process, integrated graphics and memory controllers and even the specific processor codes and clock speeds.
Consequently we have the N450 platform which comprises either the single core Atom D410 processor for netbooks or dual core D510 for nettops/desktops combined with the NM10 Express chipset. Both the D410 and D510 run at 1.66GHz with 512k and 1MB of L2 cache respectively and 7w and 12w TDPs. To give some context to these figures, on the netbook side Intel claims the N450 platform is 60 per cent smaller and 20 per cent more powerful than its predecessor, while the D410 is D510 are 70 per cent smaller and 50 per cent more powerful.
It isn't all good news however since the 2GB RAM cap remains and memory support is limited to DDR2. Meanwhile, the extra power - particularly on the netbook side - isn't great since 20 per cent better than rubbish is still pretty rubbish, especially a full year on with a more modern OS to run. Yes, Windows 7 isn't much more demanding than Windows XP, but there's still a difference. Finally Intel makes no claims about graphics performance which has been a growing concern, especially with the impressive price/performance offered by Nvidia's Ion chip while Ion 2 is imminent.
Still, Intel has secured more than 80 design wins for the Atom 450 including the likes of Asus, Acer, Dell, Toshiba, Fujitsu, Lenovo, Samsung and MSI and with systems formally available from 4 January expect the netbook craze to reignite. Me? I'm more tempted by the impending smartbook category or a CULV laptop...
Intel Press Release