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Intel ships updated Atom chips six months early

The Next Generation Derivative

Intel has confirmed it is already shipping the next incarnation of the Atom processor.

The chip maker's successor to the near-ubiquitous netbook chip, the N270, is landing in the hands of laptop makers well before the anticipated mid-2009 release. Those presently mulling a netbook purchase may want to hold off for a bit.

While the new single-core N280 only has a tiny boost of clock speed over the N270, a more noticeable improvement will come from its paring with Intel's new GN40 chipset and integrated graphics. Unlike previous Atom chips, the GN40 chipset includes hardware-based high-definition video decoders allowing for 720 HD playback.

For comparison, the N280 is clocked at 1.66GHz and connect across a 667MHz frontside bus. The N270's speeds are 1.6GHz and 533MHz, respectively. For power consumption, the N280 has a TDP of just 2W compared to the N270's 2.5W.

Intel told us not to expect an enormous 'next-gen' leap over the present chip, saying we should consider it more of a derivative of the N270.

The Asus EeePC 1000HE is the first netbook spotted with the N280 processor and is already taking pre-orders. No shipping date for the netbook has been announced.

The hasn't disclosed the price of the chip, but Asian pub DigiTimes has said the CPU and chipset bundle is priced at $60-$65. ®

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