The dual-core Intel Atom N550 processor has begun shipping in more than a dozen netbooks. With its newest low-power Atom chip, Intel hopes to keep the netbook market strong - and tablet sales at bay.
Intel's newest Atom processors are arriving in stores, powering a dozen
netbooks from manufacturers that include Acer, Asus, Fujitsu, Lenovo, LG
Electronics, Samsung, MSI and Toshiba.
The dual-core Atom N550 processors, announced Aug. 23, reportedly employ the
same compact form factor as the single-core Atom N450, but offer a more
responsive experience, along with support for DDR3
(double-data rate) memory and a strong battery life.
While the N450 features a cache of 512KB and a bus speed of 1.66GHz, the
cache on the N550 is 1MB and the speed is 1.5GHz. The Atom processors are
appropriate for a variety of form factors, according to Intel, including
smartphones, handhelds, tablets and entry-level PCs, in addition to netbooks.
"Acer strives to continually improve on our customers' total mobile
experience, whether it is increased responsiveness or extended Internet
interactivity through longer battery life," David Lee, associate vice
president of Acer's Mobile Computing Business Unit, said in a statement
regarding the new processors. "We are pleased to select dual-core Intel
Atom processors for Acer netbooks, helping to empower netbook users to achieve
even more-both at work and at leisure."
The netbook market has already proved to be a strong space for the Atom
processors, and Intel expect the market to continue to grow. "Having
shipped about 70 million Intel Atom chips for netbooks since our launch of the
category in 2008, there is obviously a great market for these devices around
the world," Erik Reid, Intel's director of marketing for mobile platforms,
said in an Aug. 23 statement.
Analysts likewise expect netbook sales to continue trending upward, though
at a slower pace than manufacturers have so far enjoyed. In a July 22 report, ABI
Research forecast shipments of netbooks to reach 60 million units by year's end
and to more than double during 2013. By
contrast, between 2008 and 2009, netbooks sales increased by 103 percent.
With time, the mobile tablet space-newly rejuvenated by Apple, with the
April 3 launch of the iPad-is expected to cause netbook sales to soften. In
a July 26 report, research firm Canalys said it expects the new tablet market
to overtake netbook sales by 2012.
"To capture share moving forward, PC makers will have to take the
netbook to the next level or go after new customer segments with their own
pads," wrote Canalys principal analyst Chris Jones.
PC maker Dell, which recently launched its Android-running Streak tablet,
reportedly also sees the market moving in favor of tablets at the cost of
netbooks. On Aug. 23, the Wall
reported that Dell will likely launch the Streak in China,
several other Asia countries in early 2011. The report
cited Steve Felice, Dell's president of consumer and small and medium businesses,
as believing that consumers prefer a mainstream notebook to a netbook, and so
when choosing between lower-cost netbooks or tablets, Dell would prefer to push
"There are still a lot of netbooks being sold, but I think they're
going to continue to decline in terms of total mix versus what they did the
last couple of years," Felice told China Real Time.
With the release of its more powerful dual-core Atom processors, Intel is
looking to stem the flow of such sentiments and boost the capabilities that
consumers can expect from netbooks.
The dual-core Atom-powered netbooks are now arriving in stores and will be
available through the end of the year.