Introduction and Specifications
If you consider Intel's design execution over the past 12 months or so, you'd have to admit it's nothing short of impressive. Not only did we see the launch of a new desktop chip with the Core i7, but Intel then ramped up clock speeds, introduced lower-cost mainstream variants of the platform, and then drove that technology down into the mobile market with the introduction of Clarksfield, otherwise known as Core i7 mobile. Of course all of that execution was centered around more powerful computing platforms with larger form factors, along with the thermal and power budgets that go with them. These products, though huge contributors to Intel's bottom line, didn't cater to the ultra-mobile set of devices Intel affectionately calls "Netbooks" and "MIDs" - cash cows that Intel CEO, Paul Otellini holds near and dear to his heart, along with the company's investors.
In fact, Intel's Atom processor and its various platforms for netbooks was relatively quiet, in terms of advancements this year, though Intel sold a boat load of these little chips to various OEMs for what has to be the hottest commodity of the past decade in computing - the netbook. And though the mainstream consumer has generally level-set their expectations of the average netbook computing experience, you can be sure the primary complaint, especially early in their introduction, was that netbooks just weren't powerful enough. Thankfully, we've seen Intel roll-out a dual core Atom variant with the Atom 330 and NVIDIA helped the platform along nicely with the introduction of Ion and their integrated GPU technology.
Lest we forget, however, the innovation machine sometimes referred to as "Chipzilla", rolls on and today we're here to give you a taste of the next generation of Atom processors that will execute on a plan of attack that Intel's rival, AMD, has been waving around as something called "fusion" for a long time now, but has yet to deliver. The Atom N450 processor has been launched today and it's comprised of a single core Atom chip with on-die graphics and memory controller. This level of integration, as we've shown you recently, is also coming to Intel's notebook platforms, but today Atom gets it first for netbooks. In the pages ahead we'll take a closer look at a new Eee PC from Asus with this new low-power Atom technology under its hood, as well as a view of the chip itself and its capabilities.
|Intel Atom N450 (Pineview)
Asus Eee PC 1005PE
Those of you that are astute (and we realize you all are very much so) will realize that unlike the higher-end Atom dual cores that Intel is shipping now, this is a single core Atom that has a monolithic (on die, not an MCM) graphics core that will drive cost, and theoretically power consumption, down. In short, it's not a performance play that we're looking at here with this new chip and platform, though future iterations of the chip may take that track. This specific release is about about reaping the benefits of higher levels of integration between the CPU and graphics blocks.