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Netbooks pack Nvidia graphics, dual-core Atom

Laptops in Japan are breaking the Netbook mold.

Updated at 12:05 p.m. PDT on August 24 to correct cache memory size and Atom processor in Shenzhen Weibu Electronics Netbook and adding Prime Note Cresion Netbook information. Akiba Hotline originally misidentified the processor used in the Netbook from Shenzhen Weibu Electronics. The Japanese Web site has since revised the article to say the Netbook uses an single-core Atom 270. A Netbook announced earlier in the summer from Dospara (below) does use the dual-core Atom 330 processor.

Most Netbooks have been on a strict Atom diet. But models that have appeared in Japan are feasting on Nvidia graphics and dual-core Atom processors.

Prime Note Cresion NA uses a dual-core Atom 330 processor
Prime Note Cresion NA uses a dual-core Atom 330 processor Dospara

Japanese technology Web site Akiba Hotline says a Netbook made by Shenzhen Weibu Electronics will soon hit the market that uses Nvidia 9400M "Ion" graphics--the same graphics used in Apple MacBooks. Both Samsung and Lenovo have indicated that they will bring out Netbooks with the Nvidia Ion processor.

The "N10A" Netbook from Weibu is expected to go on sale "soon" for 49,800 yen, or just under $530. It will come with an Atom 230 processor, 1GB of memory, a 150GB hard disk drive, Web camera, and 802.11 g/b wireless. It will not come with a pre-installed operating system, according to Akiba Hotline.

The Nvidia-powered Weibu Netbook follows a model from Japan-based Dospara announced earlier this summer that uses both Nvidia Ion graphics and a dual-core Atom 330 processor.

The 12-inch Prime Note Cresion NA Netbook comes with 2GB of memory, a 320GB hard disk drive, a DVD player, and 802.11b/g/n wireless. It retails for 59,980 yen or about 635 dollars.

The Atom 330 has become fairly common in so-called Nettops--tiny Atom-based desktop computers--but has yet to catch on in Netbooks. One reason: the Atom 330 has power consumption requirements double that of a single-core Atom (though the 330 is still low, at 8 watts, compared with mainstream Intel laptop chips, which typically are rated at 25 watts or higher).

The dual-core Atom, like other Atom processors, supports hyper-threading--which potentially doubles the number of tasks, or threads, a processor can handle--a feature also found in Intel's newest Core i "Nehalem" processors. Intel's widely-used Core architecture processors do not support hyper-threading.

The 1.6GHz Atom 330, because of its two cores, also integrates twice the cache memory (1MB) of single-core Atom chips.