updated 04:10 pm EDT, Tue October 27, 2009
Intel Pine Trail to double RAM, drop prices
Some of Intel's Pine Trail Atoms will finally escape Intel's 1GB RAM cap for netbooks even as they drop prices, a series of leaks have indicated in the past day. While the chip maker will still officially limit certain Atoms to 1GB of memory, the 1.83GHz Atom N470 will reportedly allow running 2GB of RAM. The limit should provide a large jump in performance for small systems, particularly those with more demanding operating systems like Windows 7.
All Atoms should also result in lower overall prices for the systems. Even as one of the higher-end parts, the 1.83GHz chip should still be attached to systems that cost at most $350 and more regularly closer to $300. Intel's previously talked-about 1.66GHz Atom is also said by Fudzilla to still be tied to the 1GB limit but could result in prices as low as $250. Nettops using the D410 and D510 desktop Atom chips may also be subject to the 1GB cap may also cost below $300.
Intel and Microsoft together have been criticized for limiting the performance traits of netbooks and other low-cost ultraportables by dictating specifications that are determined more by protection of more lucrative products than by technical factors. Intel now wants most systems with screens larger than 10 inches or 2GB of RAM to use at least its Consumer Ultra Low Voltage (CULV) processors, while Microsoft during the Vista era forced most PC builders to use the more expensive but slower OS.
These factors in turn have led to common criticism of netbooks and nettops as being too slow or too small, arguments that Apple has used to reject pressure to enter the hot but low-priced netbook market.