Intel to Allow New Dual Core Atom CPUs in Larger Netbooks

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Silly though that headline may sound, manufacturers who wish to sell netbooks with screens larger than 10 inches have had to swap out the made-for-netbooks Atom N-series processors with either Z-series chips, made for mobile internet devices and smaller tablets, or even cram a D-series desktop Atom processor into a netbook, as ASUS has done with its 1201 netbook.

Intel has apparently relaxed those screen size rules finally. With the introduction of its dual-core Atom N550 chip due to hit the market later this year, manufacturers will reportedly be able to use a bona-fide N-series chip in computers with screen sizes of 11.6 and 12.1 inches.

The rule had been in place to protect Intel’s sales of more expensive chips found in standard size notebooks. The thinking was that consumers would opt for a 12.1-inch netbook priced at $400-$500 over a similarly-priced or more expensive 13.3- or 14.1-inch notebook to enjoy more portability and lighter weight despite a somewhat less-capable processor. And if you think Intel’s not serious about protecting its bottom line, check out this frequently asked question from the netbooks section of its website:

“Can I replace my aging laptop with a netbook?

No. A netbook doesn’t have the processing power and functionality you’d need to run many of the applications your current laptop supports, even if it’s a few years old. The good news is that today’s laptops offer more bang for the buck than ever before. Make sure it’s powered by the all new 2010 Intel® Core™ processor family, and your new laptop won’t just be faster; it will be smarter too.”

I’d absolutely take a netbook over most laptops that were “a few years old.” And the introduction of mainstream N-series dual core Atom processors makes the above argument even tougher to defend, which is likely the reason behind Intel easing up on the size restrictions.

Aside from dual processing cores and better battery management, the 1.5GHz N550 chip will make use of the newer DDR3 memory standard and machines will feature either 32GB solid state hard drives or 250GB SATA hard drives as standard configuration options.

More on Techland:

AMD Bumps Notebook Battery to 8 Hours, Updates Desktop CPUs

New Intel Atom Z600 CPUs Coming to Tablets and Phones

HP Mini 5102: A Business Class Netbook, But Upgrades Will Cost You