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Intel's netbook roadmap downplays HD chipset

Insufficient demand for GN40?

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So farewell then, GN40, Intel's next major netbook chipset but now apparently destined for the chop before it was even launched.

That, at least, is what can be read from Intel mobile platform plans announced in Asia this week.

Sources within Taiwan's notebook manufacturer community cited by DigiTimes indicate that Intel's netbook product line will centre on the combination of the N270 processor and the 945GSE chipset, both the two key components of netbooks to date.

Absent from the roadmap, such as it is, is the N280 processor and the GN40. The latter was expected to debut alongside the N280, together bringing a tiny, 60MHz increase in processor speed but a big jump in graphics performance to new netbooks.

So far, a number of N280-based netbooks have hit the shelves, but of the GN40 chipset the part was supposed to be paired with, there's no sign. It was originally scheduled to appear in Q1 this year.

Citing low demand, the moles say Intel may phase out the GN40 and the N280.

That leaves the N270 and 945GSE as the main netbook parts - at least until September when the chipset's successor, 'Tiger Point', will debut, along with 'Pineview', the follow-up to the N270.

Pineview and Tiger Point are being aimed at 10in netbooks, leaving 8.9in models to continue to used N270/945GSE through until the end of the year, at least.

Part of the problem may be thermals. While N280 and 945GSE together consume 8W of power, the combination of N280 and GN40 consume 16.5W - not attractive to netbook vendors who're already having to bang chunky six-cell batteries onto the back of existing netbooks to give them a half-decent battery life.

To be fair, Intel previously described GN40 as an "off-roadmap product offering" for vendors seeking to offer HD-capable netbooks. However the part was categorised, it doesn't appear to have had many - only Asus, so far as we can see - takers. ®

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