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Intel Atom N270 processor set for Netbooks

The Atom N270 was overlooked last week at the Intel Developer Forum. Here's where Intel sees it fitting in.

The Atom N270 processor got buried last week under the mobile Internet device PR juggernaut. But it may prove to be more popular initially than the high-profile Atom Z5XX series for MIDs.

As previously reported, the Atom Z500, Z510, Z520, Z530, and Z540 series of processors will go into handheld-size mobile Internet devices (MIDs) such as the Lenovo IdeaPad U8. Intel promoted the Z5XX series heavily at IDF because the chipmaker needs to jump-start a new category of personal computers that fit in your pocket. Whether consumers actually need these devices is a question that will be answered later this year.

Intel Atom, Celeron segmentation
Intel Atom, Celeron segmentation Intel

The Atom N270 is quite different in this respect: It has a ready-made market. The N270 will go into an existing market segment--Netbooks--and will replace the popular Celeron in many cases, making this Atom potentially a high-volume chip. For example, currently, the Eee PC and Intel Classmate (technically Netbooks) use the Celeron. Versions of both these compact notebooks are slated to use the Atom. Based on Intel's description of the market, this category of Netbooks will use the N270 (see graphic).

Though the die (the actual processor inside the chip package) is the same for both the Atom Z5XX series and N270, the packaging and chipsets are different (see graphic). The N270 will use the 945GSE and 82801 (ICH7M) core logic. A version of this chipset (with 950 integrated graphics) is used in low-cost notebooks and desktops today. The Celeron has traditionally used the lower-end 915 chipset.

So, the way it shakes out is: the Atom Z5XX series for MIDs; the N270 (and upcoming processors) for Netbooks; the Celeron for low-cost notebooks. Note: the Atom Z5XX series includes a single-chip with integrated graphics called the Intel System Controller Hub.

Intel Atom N270 processor platform
Intel Atom N270 processor platform Intel