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Intel Updates Atom

So far Intel claims over 80 design-wins for the new Atom platform

Chip Design on Ulitzer

Intel, which just got its ass whooped by the Federal Trade Commission for allegedly smothering GPU competition and for looking like it’s gonna move its CPU monopoly into the GPU market, announced its first big Atom chip rev on Monday. It integrates graphics directly into the single- and dual-core Pine Trail Atom CPU, an x86 first.

The design is supposed to tickle the widget’s performance and usher in smaller, more energy efficient netbooks along with a new batch of cheap entry-level desktop PCs including ultra-small designs (figure a less than 1-litre chassis), fanless designs and all-in-one designs.

Intel says gadgets based on the new N450 chip and its companion NM10 Express Tiger Point chipset are due out from major OEMs in the next few weeks. The onslaught should start at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas early next month.

Intel has shipped 40 million Atoms for netbooks since the dingus was announced a year ago June. It preens that the thing has ramped faster that the iPhone or Nintendo’s popular Wii and quotes ABI Research as saying that the numbers shipped to all segments should reach into the hundreds of millions by 2011.

So far Intel claims over 80 design-wins for the new Atom platform from such as ASUS, the netbook pioneer, Acer, Lenovo, Dell, MSI, Toshiba, Samsung and Fujitsu. And it expects another round of subsidized netbooks from an expanded contingent of telecom houses, up from the current dozen.

Intel also expects most of the Atom-based units will carry the Windows 7 Starter or Home Basic operating system although some OEMs may offer the Intel-backed Moblin Linux v2 OS as an alternative.

The integration of memory controller and graphics into the CPU reduces the usual three chips – CPU, chipset and I/O controller hub – to just the CPU+chipset, cutting the thermals, manufacturing cost, footprint and power.

Intel claims a 20% improvement in the average power of the netbook platform, which reportedly translates into both a 60% smaller package and longer, better-than-eight-hour battery life. With the prospective desktops it’s nearly a 70% reduction in footprint and roughly 50% lower thermals than the previous generation.

The single-core N450 Atom comes with 512k of L2 cache and a total 7W TDP including the chipset. The single-core D410 for entry-level desktops has a total 12W TDP including chipset, and the dual-core D510 for desktops has a 1MB L2 cache and a total 15W TDP including the chipset. They all run at 1.66GHz like the current Atom.

Intel says pricing and availability will be announced in January as systems become available.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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