updated 07:55 am EST, Wed January 14, 2009
Atom N280 Due in Spring
Intel is prepping a new Atom processor whose platform will be significantly faster than any existing model, a new roadmap shows. The Atom N280 chip will only be slightly faster at 1.66GHz versus the N270's 1.6GHz but will jump the system bus from 533MHz to 667MHz, giving the chip more headroom for data. It should also introduce a much more modern integrated graphics chipset, the GN40, that brings the 3D and video features of modern Centrino 2-based notebooks to very small portables.
The processor will be more expensive and should cost between $60 and $65 in final pricing versus $46 for the N270. Systems based on the 1.66GHz part are due to start shipping during the spring and summer and will include a new 10-inch ASUS Eee PC, the 1004DN, as well as new Acer and GigaByte netbooks.
A major update is potentially essential for the Atom, which is increasingly being pushed to run more demanding operating systems like Vista and eventually Windows 7. Apple has also lately been rumored as entering netbooks despite public hesitation, though the firm's deepening connection to NVIDIA might see it use the Ion platform in conjunction with any newer Atom CPUs.
Ahead of this release, Acer is now said to be introducing a 10-inch Aspire one in February using existing hardware. The system will cost only slightly more at $399 and should come in black, red and white color schemes.