Intel working to keep the netbook alive with “Cedar Trail” Atom platform

Netbook sales have been declining, with major vendors deciding to leave the netbook market entirely. That hasn’t stopped Intel from launching a new family of processors designed for small and cheap laptops.

The new chips are the Atom N2600 and N2800, based on the Intel’s third-generation Atom architecture, codenamed Cedarview. The Cedar Trail-M platform pairs one of these processors with company’s pre-existing NM10 chipset. As with the previous generation Pineview processor, each dual core, four thread chip integrates a GPU. For Cedarwood, the processor is based on a PowerVR design. Cedarview’s GPU offers twice the performance of Pineview’s. Cedarview adds to this a dedicated media engine for hardware-accelerated decoding of motion video, including support for 1080p H.264.

Cedarview is built on Intel’s 32 nm process, compared to the 45 nm process used in Pineview. This allows for reduced power consumption in spite of the faster GPU—5 W for the 1.6 GHz N2600, 8 W for the 1.86 GHz N2800, compared to 10 W for the 1.66 GHz Pineview N570. The new processors also include more aggressive power-saving features than their predecessors. Intel is targeting system runtimes of up to 10 hours, with standby times measured in weeks. The company also claims that systems using the slower N2600 part will draw so little power that they can be passively cooled—no need for fans.

Desktop-oriented Cedarview parts, D2500 and D2700, started shipping in the third quarter of 2011. The Cedarview family has suffered delays due to problems with the video drivers, and Intel has had to cut features to deliver anything to market. During Cedarview’s development, Intel claimed that the GPU hardware supported Direct3D 10.1. However, the shipping drivers only support Direct3D 9. They also only support 32-bit Windows 7—no 64-bit driver is available.

Full Story Via ARS Technica