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Intel 'breaks' Moore's Law with new Atom chips

Eric Lai | June 15, 2009
With no speed bump and focus on price, Nvidia might make inroads on performance

The GMA 500 is "indeed better than the old 945," said Jon Peddie, principal at Jon Peddie Research, but it's still not in the league [of the Ion.]"

Despite the architectural change, Pineview-class Atoms will still technically be able to run with Nvidia's Ion, says Intel.

At the same time, Intel argues that Pineview will still shove Ion aside and leave Nvidia out in the cold.

Brookwood agrees. "Once the [Intel] GPU moves onto the same die as the CPU, you have to wonder what role, if any, a discrete GPU from Nvidia can play," Brookwood said.

Nvidia, which has complained about interference from Intel as it tries to sell Ion, did not return a request for comment.

The big gamble: HD

Not boosting Pineview's performance may vex customers hoping to watch HD movies or play shooter games on their netbook or net-top PCs. It's unclear how many consumers will demand HD and gaming capabilities.

Intel's bet: not many. That will help it prevent potential cannibalization of sales of Intel's more powerful, pricier CPUs.

"Intel wants Atom to be successful, but not too successful," McCarron said.

For consumers demanding HD video, Intel reportedly plans to offer Broadcom Corp.'s Crystal HD video decoder chip as an optional add-on.

Hewlett-Packard Co. is already using the Broadcom chip in its just-released Mini 1101 netbook.

That will add an unknown amount to the price of Pine Trail, bringing it closer to or even equal to the price of Nvidia's Ion.


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