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Intel lays ground for larger netbooks

Said to be allowing 11.6in and 12.1in models

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Intel has reportedly told netbook makers they can use its upcoming dual-core Atom processor, the N550, in 11.6in and 12.1in machines, and not just the traditional 9in and 10in form factors.

The chip giant hasn't said as much in public - we're relying instead on the testimony of moles from within Taiwan's netbook manufacturer community, mentioned by local newssite DigiTimes.

The N550 will clock at 1.5GHz and each of its two cores will, like previous Atoms, support HyperThreading, allowing the chip to appear to the host OS as a four-core part.

It will also support DDR 3 memory - previous Atoms have been stuck with DDR 2.

The N550 is expected to be accompanied by the N475, a version of the now-shipping 1.83GHz N470 that, likewise, supports DDR 3.

Intel's move is interesting. It has always wanted to place clear blue water between netbooks and notebooks, and limiting the latter's screen sizes was one way to do this.

If the claimed change of mind has indeed been made, it will muddy matters, making it even harder for punters to judge whether they want a netbook or a compact notebook based on Intel's ultra-low voltage Celeron, Pentium and Core chips. ®

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