Dual-core Intel Netbook chip due by June

Netbooks will move away from single-core Atom processors, which provide good battery life but lack the performance of multicore chips.

Netbooks are expected to get a dual-core Intel Atom processor by June, finally giving this category of tiny laptops all of the goodness that multicore processors offer.

An Asus Netbook with a dual-core desktop Atom processor: future Netbook-specific dual-core Atoms could boost sales. Asus

Netbooks from Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Dell, and Toshiba are offered exclusively with single-core Atom processors, which provide good battery life but lack the performance of multicore chips. Though Asus has been offering a dual-core Netbook, this kind of design is rare because it shoehorns a more power-hungry Atom chip built for desktop PCs into a larger laptop-sized casing.

But a dual-core Atom tamed for the tiny Netbook form factor could boost the product segment by striking a better balance between performance and battery life. As this HotHardware review of the Asus Netbbook shows, a dual-core design can make a difference. "It's easy to spot just how beneficial a dual-core CPU is here," the review said.

The dual-core Atom is expected during the June Computex conference time frame, according to industry sources. Intel chief executive Paul Otellini indicated as much during the company's first-quarter earnings conference call when he said a dual-core Atom for Netbooks "comes out in the second quarter."

The category is still poised for heady growth this year. And confusion and delays among companies trying to bring out Netbooks based on the Linux operating system and ARM processors can only help Intel's cause. "I still think there will be significant growth in the Netbook business year over year. Features and integration (of silicon) are the technical knobs to twist here," Otellini said during the earnings conference call in April.

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