by Ilya Gavrichenkov
03/12/2008 | 05:47 PM
System builders’ reaction to Atom processors and platform launch indicates that Intel hit the sweet spot with it. At a meeting with financial analysts, Intel CEO Paul Otellini said that Intel expects to have 10 OEMs, including some of the major vendors in the PC market, offering some kind of low-cost notebook based on these processors and a new platform. At the same time the market for these low-cost PCs is worth about $10 billion, Otellini told financial analysts.
Typical Atom based computers will be ultra-portable notebooks or tabled PCs with small 7-10 inch displays. Devices will ship with either hard disks or solid-state drives that use flash memory and offer battery life ranging from three to five hours. The majority of models are most likely to come equipped with wired network controller or WiFi, and then later with WiMAX. Some will be really sleek and thin, some will be a bit more ruggedized. The manufacturers will provide their solutions with Linux or Windows XP operating system and the Atom based devices will be primarily positioned for internet-surfing and typical office work.
So, the manufacturers do not consider the so-called netbook devices based on Atom processors to replace the traditional notebook solutions. Nor will these laptops offer enough processing power, hard drive capacity and memory to support sophisticated applications such as content creation software. It is a completely new class of devices.
The cost of these Atom notebooks will range from $250 to $300, which should appeal not only to small to midsize businesses with small IT staffs and more limited budgets, but also to emerging markets and consumers. Intel also expects that netbooks will become something like a second notebook with higher level of mobility for advanced users. That is exactly why by 2011, Intel expects the industry to be shipping about 10 million of these low-cost PCs.
Built on 45 nanometer process technology and using "High-K" metal gate transistor technologies, the first Atom processors will fit onto a 25mm by 25mm die, and will use a tenth of the power drawn by Core2 Duo "ULV" chips, Intel says, while scaling to 1.8GHz speeds. The first modification oft his processor codenamed Diamondville will appear in Q2 2008. It will be Intel Atom 230 with 1.6GHz clock frequency, 533MHz bus and 512KB L2 cache. This processor will have only one core but thanks to technology similar to Hyper-Threading it will be able to process two threads simultaneously. It will cost only $29.
In Q3 they will expand their product lineup with a new Atom processor running at 1.87GHz clock frequency and a dual-core processor from the 300 series working at 1.6GHz.