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Intel announces autos, mobiles Atom ambition

Embedded netbooks, anyone?

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First netbooks, then handheld internet tablets and now... cars. Intel wants to get its Atom processor family into automobiles.

The scheme centres on the chip giant's Atom Z5xx series, which it launched in April 2008 as the foundation for MIDs - Mobile Internet Devices. MIDs haven't exactly become thick on the ground since then, though a few netbooks have eschewed the netbook-oriented Atom N270 for the Z530 or Z520, such as Dell's Inspiron Mini 12.

Next-gen Atom Zs are expected later this year, but that doesn't mean the end of the current line-up, which Intel today said it would sell as an embedded offering - non-computer applications, essentially.

Intel highlighted automotive roles as one such application, though it was unable to persuade any car makersor manufacturers of in-car entertainment systems to confirm publicly they've committed themselves to Atom - if, indeed, any have.

Just in case they don't, Intel also announced a Media Phone Reference Design based upon the Z5xx Atoms and running Moblin, the handset-oriented Linux distro Intel's backing. If Atom doesn't make it into automobiles, maybe it'll appear in iPhone clones instead. ®

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