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As netbook sales fall, Intel will slash Atom pricing

May 27, 2011 — by Jonathan Angel — from the LinuxDevices Archive
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Intel will respond to falling netbook sales by slashing the price of its upcoming “Cedar Trail” Atoms, bringing the cost of complete devices below $200, reports say. The 1.86GHz Atom N2800 and 1.6GHz Atom N2600 will both sport dual cores, while TDPs will be 3.5 and 6.5 Watts, respectively.

Since the 2008 release of the original Z5xx ("Silverthorne"), Intel has released 42 different, 45nm-fabbed Atom processors (a total that doesn't even include the Atom-based CE4100 and CE4200 systems-on-chip). The chipmaker's most recent such product is the "Oak Trail" Atom Z670, now being incorporated into a variety of tablets.

But Intel has also tipped a smaller Atom platform code-named "Cedar Trail," which will shrink courtesy of 32nm fabrication and go on sale during the second half of this year. Featuring further improvements in power consumption, "Cedar Trail" (below) will include Blu-ray 2.0 support, a dedicated media engine "for full 1080p playback," plus additional video options including Intel Wireless Display, DisplayPort, and HDMI, says Intel.


Intel's Cedar Trail
(Click to enlarge)

Intel hasn't publicly named either the Cedar Trail Atoms or the I/O controller that will be mated with them to create the overall "Cedarview" platform. But thanks to leaks that have been pinging around the blogosphere all month, we know the new Atoms will be the D2500 and D2700 for desktops, and the N2600 and N2800 for netbooks. (Of course, the N models are very likely to show up in embedded devices and tablets, too.)

Now, DigiTimes writers Monica Chen and Joseph Tsai cite "sources from netbook players" as saying the N2600 and N2800 will sell for just $42 and $47, respectively. As they noted in their May 26 story, this represents a significant drop from the cost of the existing Atom N4xx and N5xx CPUs, which range from $64 to $86.

Chen and Tsai claim the price slashing is due to the fact that "most netbook vendors have turned their R&D focus to tablet PCs, while shifting their netbook sales targets to emerging markets such as Brazil and India." Cedar Trail-based netbooks will be able to sell for as little as $200, they add.

Likely drawing on the same porous Taiwanese sources, CPU World writer Gennadly Shvets published the same prices on May 24. His story also summarized available information on clock speeds and power consumption in a table, which we have adapted below.

Model Clock speed Cores/threads TDP Price
D2500 1.86 GHz 2/2 10W $42
D2700 2.13 GHz 2/4 10W $52
N2600 1.6 GHz 2/4 3.5W $42
N2800 1.86GHz 2/4 6.5W $47

Intel's upcoming D- and N-series Atoms
Source: CPU World

Enhanced graphics

As we've already suggested, this month brought so many leaks about the Cedar Trail Atoms that it's impossible to determine who said what first. (AnandTech, CPU World, and Fudzilla have all been regular sources of updates.)

Information on Cedar Trail's enhanced graphics apparently first emerged, however, on the VR-Zone website. On May 10, it ran an "exclusive" story with what appeared to be a Intel-sourced graphic (below).


Intel's Cedarview platform
Source: VR-Zone
(Click to enlarge)

The slide indicates that the 32nm-fabbed Cedar Trail processors will measure 22 x 22nm. There's no word of a companion I/O controller — we've heard claims that Intel's existing NM10 will be employed — but the overall Cedarview platform will apparently support up to 4GB of DDR3 memory as well as LVDS displays up to 1440 x 900 pixels (plus external VGA, DisplayPort, or HDMI).

According to the graphic, Cedarview will also include PowerVR graphics IP licensed from Imagination Technologies, providing support for DirectX 10.1 and OpenGL 3.0, as well as hardware accelerated video decoding for MPEG-2, MPEG-4 part 2, VC1, WMV9, and H.264.

Intel incorporated PowerVR graphics in its original Z5xx, but used its own graphics IP in many later Atoms. (This had the ironic result that the Z5xx is sometimes touted for its HD video decoding, whereas the later, popular N270 can't do HD in even the most fanciful copywriter's imagination.)

Jonathan Angel can be followed at www.twitter.com/gadgetsense.


This article was originally published on LinuxDevices and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit LinuxToday.com for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.

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