Intel to introduce faster Atom chip Monday

The N470 chip, a faster version of the "Pine Trail" processor for Netbooks, will be identical to the current 1.66GHz N450 but get bumped to a speed of 1.83GHz.

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.

Intel 'Pine Trail' Atom processor integrates graphics chip function.
Intel 'Pine Trail' Atom processor integrates graphics chip function. Intel

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.

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