Intel Keeps Netbook Train Rolling With New 'Cedar Trail' Atom Chips


Intel Thursday officially released its new N2600 and N2800 Cedar Trail 32-nm processors, the latest in its Atom series of mobile chips. The new processor is specifically built to boost the battery life and performance of netbook PCs.

Netbooks running on the new Cedar Trail processors will have a potential battery life of up to 10 hours and will see a reduction in power consumption up to 20 percent compared to previous Atom platforms, Intel said. Lower thermal design power (TDP) and power management features including Intel Deeper Sleep and Intel SpeedStep also help with conservation.

Cedar Trail delivers a dedicated media engine enabling 1080-pixel high-definition video playback. The integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator, coupled with the integrated memory controller, is said by Intel to deliver twice the graphics performance of previous Atom chips.

Apart from a better battery life and enhanced graphics, Intel’s newest member of the Atom family comes equipped with two never-before-seen features: Intel Wireless Display (or Intel WiDi) and Intel Wireless Music. These built-in capabilities allow users to wirelessly display videos or photos from any wireless-enabled netbook device to a television. The Wireless Music feature also allows user to stream music directly from their netbook into a home speaker system.

Perhaps more important than its specs, Cedar Trail reaffirms Intel’s dedication to the netbook space, which had been called into question after the chipmaker expressed a growing interest in the super-chic Ultrabook this year.

"The implications of Ultrabooks are huge," said Intel president and CEO Paul Otellini during a keynote speech at the Intel Developer Forum 2011 in September. "This is a transformation in computing and an expansion opportunity for Intel and developers."

In addition to Ultrabooks, the mobile market has seemed to capture much of the chipmaker’s attention. Just last week, Intel started to ship mobile device prototypes running on its new system-on-a-chip Medfield, as it preps to compete with rival ARM in the low-power mobility space next year.

Even amidst the Medfield and Ultrabook hype, Cedar Trail suggests that the netbook is still part of Intel’s overall strategy. According to Intel spokesperson Kathryn Gill, the netbook market is especially popular on a larger global scale, specifically within Latin America, South East Asia, and Eastern Europe.

"The market for netbooks worldwide is still tens of millions each year," Gill told CRN. "We view this as an important market segment for our overall product portfolio and believe it continues to add offer unique value for consumers."

Netbooks featuring Cedar Trail will be available from major OEMs including Acer, Asus, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, and Toshiba during the first half of 2012.