Intel ships a new generation of Atom chips

The first Cedar Trail chips are targeted at low-end desktops and all-in-ones, with netbook chips coming in the fourth quarter

Intel on Monday started shipping new low-power Atom chips built on the platform code-named Cedar Trail, with numerous improvements to boost graphics and application performance over their predecessor.

The two new Atom chips are targeted at entry-level desktops and all-in-one PCs for Internet surfing and basic multimedia and productivity applications, an Intel spokeswoman said. The new dual-core Atom chips run at clock speeds of up to 2.13GHz and are able play Blu-ray movies.

The Cedar Trail chips succeed the previous generation of Atom processors built on the platform code-named Pine Trail, which was criticized for poor video performance. Netbooks with the new Atom chips will ship in the fourth quarter, the spokeswoman said. Netbooks based on Cedar Trail chips were on display at this month's Intel Developer Forum.

Netbook shipments have been hurt by growth in tablets, but Intel is keeping the Atom chip for low-cost PCs alive in an effort to offer low-cost computing options. Intel is also promoting ultrabooks as a new class of thin and light laptops with tablet-like features. While the netbooks and desktops are for basic computing, the feature-rich ultrabooks are based on Intel's much faster Core processors and currently cost around $US1,000, with prices expected to drop.

The Atom D2700 processor runs at a clock speed of 2.13GHz, is priced at $52 and can run two threads per core. The D2500 processor operates at 1.86GHz, is priced at $42 and can run one thread per core. The chips have 1MB of cache, and support the HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) and DisplayPort interfaces. The chips will support up to 4GB of memory.

The new chips are made using the 32-nanometer process, while the predecessors were made using the 45-nm process.

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