Intel Unveils Faster Atom Chip

Intel is rolling out the Atom N470, which has a faster clock speed than the current N450. However, at the same time, devices powered by the upcoming Atom N455 and N475 chips are being put on display at the CeBIT technology show in Germany, according to reports.

Intel has rolled out a faster version of its Atom chip, even as reports of devices sporting even newer Atoms come out of the CeBIT 2010 technology show in Germany.

Intel announced March 1 that the new Atom N470 offers many of the same capabilities as the current N450 "Pine Trail" chip, though it runs at 1.83GHz, a jump from the N450s 1.66GHz. The new version offers 512K of L2 cache, DDR2-667 support and integrated graphics built into the CPU.

Intel officials said they expect that over the next few months, most OEMs will roll out new netbooks that will feature the Atom N470, which they said will give the new devices a faster response times. The faster chip will also help in creating smaller and more energy-efficient netbook designs.

At the same time, there are reports that devices are being shown at the CeBIT show-including an Asus netbook-powered by the upcoming Atom N455 and N475, which apparently are versions of the N450 and N470 that support DDR3 memory.

Intel has seen rapid adoption of the Atom chip, which initially was aimed as netbooks and similar smaller Internet devices. However, the chip maker has aggressively been working to expand the reach of the platform.

Research firms also have seen the popularity of Atom and netbooks grow. ABI Research has predicted that Atom shipments will grow into the hundreds of millions by 2011. In addition, Gartner and IDC both expect the netbook market will continue to expand. Gartner in November predicted that mini-notebook shipments will reach 29 million in 2009 and 41 million in 2010.

Intel also is looking to developers to help it expand the market reach of Atom. At the Intel Developer Forum in September, Intel unveiled the Atom Developer Program that is aimed at making it easier for developers to create applications for the platform.

However, it hasn't all been easy for the Atom platform. Intel officials said last week that the partnership with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, announced in 2009, has been delayed for lack of customer demand.

The agreement was aimed at moving Atom beyond the PC space and into such areas as embedded devices by porting some Atom cores to TSMC, and that the two companies would work on building SoC (system on a chip) designs for Atom.

However, Intel officials said they currently have no immediate plans to bring TSMC-manufactured chips to the market.