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Report: Intel Atom for low-cost desktops coming

Chipmaker will bring out a dual-core version of the Atom processor for desktops and set-top boxes, according to Chinese-language Web site HKEPC.

Intel will bring out a version of the Atom processor for low-cost desktops, among other form factors, according to a report.

Atom processor brand Intel Corp.

The Atom processor, announced earlier this week, is a tiny low-power, low-cost processor destined for ultramobile devices and low-cost desktops typically running either Linux or Windows XP. The first Atom chips will ship in the second quarter.

A dual-core version of the Atom processor, due in the third quarter, will run at 1.87GHz and have a thermal envelope of 12 watts, according to the Chinese-language Web site HKEPC, which cites Taiwan motherboard manufacturers as sources. Some designs that use this version of Atom will have passive cooling. Passive cooling systems are typically fanless and thereby use less power.

Intel will not comment on unannounced products but spokesman Bill Calder said that there will be a dual-core Atom processor for desktops--which Intel is calling "Nettops"--that will appear after single-core versions. As previously reported, Atom processors for notebooks (Netbooks) will not be dual-core. At least not initially.

The dual-core version may find its way into set-top boxes and embedded systems too, the report said.

Systems will use a 945 Northbridge chipset and an ICH7 Southbridge. The Northbridge chipset connects the CPU to memory and the PCI bus. The Southbridge controls I/O functions, such as USB, audio, serial, and the system BIOS. Some of the systems may use an Intel "Little Falls 2" Mini-ITX motherboard, a tiny (17x17 cm) low-power motherboard design developed by VIA Technologies, the report said.

This push by Intel--with both processors and motherboards--is expected to pose a challenge to VIA, which is a major player in the embedded market.