Published in News


by on15 January 2009
Over the past few weeks there's been a lot of talk about Intel's draconian Atom restrictions, and some vendors, such as HP, have reportedly already asked the chipmaker to loosen some of them. Others, like MSI, have showcased products which blatantly violate them.

The fact that Dell's Inspiron Mini 12 is already available, shows there's room for negotiation, but Intel is still keeping quiet on the issue, apart from a few comments we got at CES. True, Intel has announced plans for a new CPU series, to be used on thin and cheap notebooks, but has set no date launch, saying only it will launch later this year.

The unavailability of this new platform, coupled with Intel's Atom restrictions, has opened a back door for AMD's Neo platform, as well as VIA's Nano CPU. It's still early to gauge if AMD, and especially VIA, have the clout to take advantage of the situation in a limited timeframe, but HP and Samsung are getting ready to launch their 12-inch units powered by Neo and Nano CPUs soon.

Intels claims it doesn't allow larger Atom based machines because the CPU isn't powerful enough for them, and reviews of Dell's Inspiron Mini 12 confirm this, at least to some extent. Reviewers found the Atom Z530 simply too week to cope with Vista, and reported very poor performance, including boot times of several minutes. MSI doesn't seem to care, and its X320 boasts a 13.3-inch 1366x768 screen, powered by a Z series Atom. Some reports indicate MSI will also offer a pricier version of the X320 powered by mobile dual-cores.

At this point it seems Intel is well aware its Atom platform in Z and N flavors, can't keep up with the competition, and it's looks as if it is sitting this round out. It is a matter of prestige, it's better not to have a product for several months, than to have a stopgap solution with lackluster performance, which will hurt the brand. Atom Z machines have some serious drawbacks, which most vendors fail to mention. Although the US15W chipset is superior to the 945 in power efficiency, it has serious limitations for RAM, its IGP has a limited external resoultion, and it only supports PATA storage.

VIA's, and especially AMD's platforms offer
Last modified on 16 January 2009
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