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Intel ready with Atom processors for low-cost notebooks

Two new Atom processors are ready for prime time, adding low-cost desktops and notebooks to the mix after tackling mobile Internet devices earlier in the year.

Intel is ready to ship the latest edition of its Atom processor family, this time going after the emerging market for low-cost subnotebooks.

Acer's version of a netbook, expected to arrive this week using Intel's new Atom processor.

The N270 and N230 are processors designed for what Intel calls "netbooks" and "nettops," and the company plans to unveil them Tuesday at Computex in Taiwan. The new chips are basically the same chips as the earlier Atom processors released for mobile Internet devices, but they have been tweaked slightly for use with bigger Internet access devices, said Erik Reid, director of Intel's Mobile Platforms Group, on a conference call.

While the MID category is still very much a niche, the subnotebook is getting a fresh look in both emerging markets and more developed areas. Consumers have shown more than a passing interest in devices like the Eee PC as low-cost Internet access terminals. You're not going to want to edit the family reunion video on one of these things, but you can check sports scores and update your Facebook profile without too much difficulty.

Intel estimates that a netbook using the Atom N270 processor running at 1.6GHz, a 7-inch to 10-inch screen, 512MBs of RAM, and 2GBs to 4GBs of flash storage should cost around $250. The N270 processor for netbooks costs $44 in quantities of 1,000 units, while the N230 processor for nettops (think small desktops) costs $29.

Intel plans to make several announcements at Computex, including new chipsets for desktop PCs that were covered by my colleague Rich Brown from CNET Reviews.