One of the key tendencies that was dominating the computer market in the past year 2009 was wide spreading of low-power inexpensive computer systems. The netbook and nettop concept introduced by Intel back in 2008 proved extremely successful and came in very handy in the light of the global economic meltdown. As a result, we see steady growth in the market for these inexpensive computer systems. Netbooks and nettops became so popular partially due to the fact that Intel launched their special Atom processor that became the basis for a very successful hardware platform for these systems. Although this CPU based on independent CISC microarchitecture doesn’t set any performance records, it is not only very affordable, but also consumes extremely little power and dissipates very little heat. As a result, this CPU can be used in compact system cases and work with passive cooling solutions.
Until recently, netbooks and nettops only used first-generation Atom codenamed Diamondville. I have to admit that even though the platforms built around this processor received a pretty warm welcome from the market, they were not absolutely issue-free. There were two major drawbacks: extremely low performance and absence of adequate chipsets. The systems based on the first-generation Atom processors are barely powerful enough for the simplest applications and primitive Internet activity. Slightly more complex tasks such as HD video playback or fully-fledged use of Adobe Flash technology turn out beyond the capacity of most contemporary netbooks and nettops. The i945GC and i945GSE chipsets from Intel designed for Atom processors feature very high heat dissipation, which has a negative effect on the overall platform parameters. Nvidia tried to partially fix the issue by introducing their vision of inexpensive compact systems – the ION platform. By using Intel Atom processor together with their GeForce 9300 chipset, which could accelerate HD video playback and help during more complex computational tasks thanks to CUDA technology support, Nvidia managed to significantly increase the possible application fields for netbook sand nettops. However, power consumption and heat dissipation also are not the strongholds of Nvidia chipsets. ION based nettops are even less energy-efficient than their counterparts built using Intel components. And netbooks on GeForce 9300 have never really become widely spread, because they require high-capacity and pretty expensive batteries.
In other words, the circumstances have long required a refresh of the netbook and nettop platform. Especially, since the launch that took place in 2008 Diamondville processor family hasn’t really changed: so far it has only included single-and dual-core processors operating at 1.6-1.66 GHz frequencies. That is why we are very excited about the recent launch of the new Atom processors from the next generation called Pineview. Moreover, at the same time they also introduced a new Pine Trail platform including Intel NM10 Express chipset. However, did this platform refresh help Intel eliminate all the nettops and netbook issues? Let’s try to answer this question today, especially, since we managed to get our hands on the new Intel D510MO mainboard representing the real implementation of the new Pine Trail platform.