Intel Realigning Atom Processor Strategy Away from Netbooks

Intel Realigning Atom Processor Strategy Away from Netbooks

Netbook sales aren't what they used to be. A combination of factors ended the netbook craze that existed not all that long ago, including the rising popularity of tablet PCs, lower cost notebooks, and the recent introduction of highly portable Ultrabooks. Underscoring this point is the fact that Intel's Atom processor and chipset revenue fell by nearly a third (32 percent) in the Q3 2011 compared to the same quarter in 2010, according to IHS iSuppli. So what does the future hold for Atom?



Looking ahead, Intel is shifting its Atom strategy towards network-attached storage (NAS) devices, entry-level servers, and embedded applications. This shift will begin with the introduction of Intel's next Atom CPU -- Centerton -- built on a 32nm manufacturing process with a slim architecture and low power consumption, according to DigiTimes.

Skipping ahead to 2013, Intel will following up Centerton with 22nm Silvermont-based Atom processors, and then 14nm Airmont-based Atom chips in 2014. By then, Intel hopes to have a better foothold in the tablet PC market, the same one that's been partially responsible for consumers' waning interest in netbooks.
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"including the rising popularity of tablet PCs"

Yeah but...no. Totally different products. It's also the fact that many had bought a netbook, so why buy a new one? Much better to upgrade the laptop...plus after getting a netbook you don't want to put money on another sucky little thing.

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The microprocessor market to me for the past several years has been about efficiency on one side and power on the other. On the Power side Intel seems to be winning on the efficiency side I would say they are loosing. The ATOM line has not done what it was meant to do and AMD is killing them or at least even at a better price point in that part of the market, then ARM processors eat the other part of that market. When it comes to Power processors though Intel wins although AMD has a much better price point when you want top end performance Intel wins (on those specific processors (I am talking mid to high end desktop here)).

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Most have abandoned the netbook market BECAUSE of the weak Atom, IMO. The Atom netbook platform was only decent as a dual-core, and with Nvidia graphics - but that combo was very expensive.

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Netbooks were popular because they provided a cheap basic computer at a time when people wanted something affordable. Performance was never the point of owning one!

Mind that netbooks never provided Intel with much profit. So they were never really motivated to develop it until they decided to make a push for the mobile market. Even then they wouldn't mind seeing netbooks die out in favor of higher profit products.

Netbooks only really exist because of the high demand for low cost computers, which netbooks are still the lowest cost solution for the average consumer. Even with the rapidly growing mobile market there's still a niche for netbooks. It's just smaller than it use to be but they're not going away anytime soon.

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I tried out a Dell Inspiron Duo with an atom processor. it was akin if not below the performance I saw on a Dell Inspiron series desktop with a Pentium processor from the early 2000's... The Netbook is useful for internet browsing, and simple office applications which a tablet can do just as well with more features,

Good to see Intel isn't entirely abandoning a technology they've developed and are putting it to good use, Atom processors in NAS devices and low end servers should be pretty powerful and more importantly, power efficient

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Seems like a good move from Intel. Netbooks will die out within a couple years at most, but network attached storage devices won't (not with the ever-increasing storage demands we are seeing).

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The ATOM market is pretty consistently underestimated and misunderstood. For one thing, the ATOM may have started as a single line of low power low cost CPU's but Intel has since developed it into multiple lines of chips optimized for different market segments.

Like Medfield is for the mobile market and intended for devices like Smart Phones. Silvermont is actually intended to replace Cedar Trail, which replaces Pine Trail.

Centerton is just the first one Intel will be pushing the SoC design before Silvermont, but Silvermont will be the general purpose chip version like Cedar Trail is now. So don't actually expect Silvermont to be only applied to server and embedded devices, though they may expand the new architecture into what presently fills multiple ATOM lines.

While market share loss is mostly because netbooks have reached market saturation and like regular notebooks are no longer a rapidly growing market. Most reports of loss were actually of slowing of sales instead of actual loss. Though now they are starting to see actual loss but like another already commented, it's not exactly a good time to expect people to want to get a new model when there is no benefit yet, but that will change once Silvermont comes out and offers the first real improvement since netbooks first came out.

For now let's not underestimate the fact that netbooks still offer a basic computer for less than any other platform. Prices are continuing to drop for netbooks and until Windows 8 comes out for ARM, then ARM won't be able to offer a desktop OS based product for those low price ranges. While it'll likely be till 2013 before Ultrabooks really take off with the Haswell update. So netbooks still have a niche, even if it's smaller than before. Whether netbooks will die out or not remains to be seen and depends on whether netbooks evolve or not.

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