Double your netbook power with new dual-core Atoms

Dual-core Atom N550 processors can re-ignite netbooks' popularity & expand possibilities for other mobile computing platforms

Intel has launched the Atom N550 today--its first dual-core Atom processor. The next-generation Atom processor boosts the power and capabilities of smaller mobile computers--providing businesses with even more cost effective options for portable computing.

The Atom N550 processors is available on the shelf as of today in a dozen or so different netbook models. The manufacturers that are already on the dual-core Atom bandwagon include Acer, ASUS, Fujitsu, Lenovo, LG, Samsung, MSI, and Toshiba.

The Atom was designed by Intel to provide a more energy-efficient alternative to the Celeron-M processors that were being used in netbooks at the time. The launch of the Atom made the netbook a more powerful mobile computing platform and basically ignited the explosion of the netbook market.

"In their short history, the netbook category has experienced impressive growth," said Erik Reid, director of marketing for mobile platforms at Intel. "Having shipped about 70 million Intel Atom chips for netbooks since our launch of the category in 2008, there is obviously a great market for these devices around the world."

As the high end of notebooks -- the larger and more powerful cousins of the netbook -- evolve from dual-core to the more powerful quad-core processors, the Atom N550 moves the diminutive netbook platform into the dual-core era. The Atom N550 processor runs at 1.5GHz, and includes support for DDR3 memory as well.

Netbooks are the first out of the gate with the new Atoms -- and the netbook market represents the most obvious benefactor of the transition to dual-core processing -- but there are wider applications for the new Intel processors as well. The more powerful processor also opens the possibility of dual-core smartphones and tablets as technology continues to migrate to mobile platforms.

Intel's work with Nokia to develop the Meego mobile operating system, and its purchase of McAfee to provide better security for connected devices of all shapes and sizes also hint at what may be on the horizon for Intel.

Companies that want to provide employees with portable computers, but don't need mobile users to have top-end computing power can explore the possibility of deploying dual-core netbooks rather than full-blown notebook PCs. Even single-core netbooks are capable of completing the vast majority of tasks that mobile workers might need to perform.

Netbooks are smaller and lighter than notebooks, making them easier to lug around while on the go. They also have significantly better battery life than typical notebooks--lasting six hours or more on a single charge. And, let's not forget that netbooks are generally much cheaper than typical notebook PCs.

Smartphones and tablets have pushed netbooks to the back of the mobile computing bus, but those platforms have limitations and sometimes mobile workers need a "real" computer. The Atom N550 processors bring dual-core power to netbooks, and expand the possibilities for computing on the go.

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Tony Bradley

PC World (US online)
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