Intel's new Atom processor to lower netbook prices

The new Atom N435 processor is targeted at sub-$200 netbooks in emerging markets

Intel on Wednesday said it has introduced a new Atom processor to bring down the price of netbooks in emerging markets to under US$200, but the lower price may come at a performance penalty.

The single-core Atom N435 runs at 1.33GHz and includes 512KB of cache, making it the slowest of second-generation N-series processors that go into most netbooks today. The next fastest chips are the Atom N450 and N455 chips, which run at 1.66GHz.

Asus is using the new Atom N435 in its latest Eee PC X101, which is priced starting at $199. The laptop is being shown at the Computex trade show being held in Taipei.

Netbooks are generally priced above $250. New netbooks using the N435 will provide "new levels of affordability for emerging markets," said Suzy Ramirez, an Intel spokeswoman, in an e-mail.

The new chip has given a boost to Intel's Meego OS and AppUp application store, as a number of netbooks with the new chip have been announced with the Linux-based operating system. Acer's Aspire One Happy 2, Samsung's N100 and Lenovo's IdeaPad S100, all running the N435 and Meego, are being shown at Computex.

Lower prices could also help draw renewed interest in netbooks, which are small and low-powered laptops for basic word processing and Internet surfing. After a phenomenal take-off in 2008, netbook shipments have stumbled in the last year, partly due to a growing interest in tablets.

The fast tablet shipment growth is also hurting mainstream PCs, whose shipments are growing at slower-than-expected rates. In an attempt to counter tablets, Intel on Tuesday announced plans to put its chips in a new class of lighter and thinner laptops called "Ultrabooks," which will be 40 percent smaller than current mainstream laptops. Intel expects Ultrabooks to account for 40 percent of consumer laptop sales by the end of 2012.

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