Netbooks running dual-core Intel Atom processors coming in Q3. Would you buy one for $399?

Summary:Netbooks may not be the hot product they were in their 2009 heyday, but there's apparently still new life to be squeezed from the little laptops. Fudzilla is reporting that Intel is readying dual-core Atom processors—Atom, of course, being the CPU that's powered most netbooks to date—that will be shipping in systems come the third quarter of 2010.

Netbooks may not be the hot product they were in their 2009 heyday, but there's apparently still new life to be squeezed from the little laptops. Fudzilla is reporting that Intel is readying dual-core Atom processors—Atom, of course, being the CPU that's powered most netbooks to date—that will be shipping in systems come the third quarter of 2010.

While netbooks were by design not built to be performance powerhouses, that didn't stop consumers from snapping them up and then being disappointed when their single-core processors and 1GB of RAM couldn't let them do all of the things that a conventional laptop could let them do. Intel hopes to overcome that problem with the forthcoming N550 dual-core Atom processor (each core running at 1.5GHz), which should be packaged in netbooks arriving for back-to-school purchase.

You may still only get a gig of RAM, but N550 supports DDR3 memory, so that should provide a performance bump. Others specs may stay similar to currently available netbooks, like a small solid state drive (20GB or 32GB) or a larger, though slower, 250GB hard drive. Intel is limiting netbooks using the N550 to screen sizes between 7 inches and 10.2 inches, so you shouldn't expect anything like 11.6-inch dual-core netbooks.

Of course, the recommended pricing will increase will the introduction of the new processor. While many netbooks have been priced at $299, Intel is suggesting prices for the new systems will range from $349 to $399. For that price, you'll get improved multitasking and support for apps that make use of multicore processing. Is that enough to make netbooks an attractive alternative to dual-core budget laptops with bigger screens and price tags only slightly higher? Let us know what you think in our Comments section.

Topics: Intel, Hardware, Mobility, Processors

About

Sean Portnoy started his tech writing career at ZDNet nearly a decade ago. He then spent several years as an editor at Computer Shopper magazine, most recently serving as online executive editor. He received a B.A. from Brown University and an M.A. from the University of Southern California.

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