With Ivy Bridge graphics, could Intel's Valley View Atom processor save netbooks?

With Ivy Bridge graphics, could Intel's Valley View Atom processor save netbooks?

Summary: Intel has a chip in the pipeline that could boost graphics performance significantly over current Atom processors.


While many people have abandoned netbooks for the iPad and other tablets, Intel doesn't appear to be giving up on the platform. According to new information, the company has a chip in the pipeline that could boost graphics performance significantly over current Atom processors.

A leaked road map shows a new system-on-a-chip dubbed Valley View (with a Balboa Pier chipset), a 22nm chip that features four cores, DDR3 RAM, and USB 3.0 support and is slated for 2013 release. But maybe most importantly, it could offer up to 4x improvement in graphics.

An Intel engineer has described Valley View as a "CedarView-like chip but with an Ivybridge graphics core." While Intel's integrated graphics aren't up to most discrete graphics performance yet, Sandy Bridge ushered in big improvements, and Ivy Bridge is expected to perform even better.

Considering mediocre graphics has been one of netbooks' major issues, Ivy Bridge graphics could provide the platform a much-needed boost. It could also be embedded in set-top devices in the living room, perhaps powering a future Intel Internet TV service.

A loyal cadre of netbook supporters has commented here in the past that they use netbooks on a daily basis. So what would you think of a Valley View chip with Ivy Bridge graphics? Would it give netbooks more of a chance against tablets? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section.

[Via The Verge]

Topics: Intel, Hardware, Mobility, Processors

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  • Nope, netbooks are dead or dying

    Tablets killed the netbook because they did what people wanted a netbook for, a small, light, mobile platform for internet, e-mail, and viewing documents.

    Netbooks will not make a comeback. I think this new atom is just another step before Intel starts releasing server versions for lower power, lower cost systems.
  • netbooks no, low-cost laptops yes.

    Power was not the only thing killing netbooks, the form factor was also an issue. Most netbook screens and keyboards were just too damn small to use on a real-world basis. I have two of them, and still end up using my 13" laptop because of the size.

    So I figure that these chips will end up being used in bargain basement laptops for people who still caught in the tablet-PC duality issue. Of all the people I know who own iPads, all of them also still have a PC or Mac as well. They don't get used as much, but they are still needed for some tasks.
    terry flores
  • Netbook's problems

    What I think really was the netbook's problems:

    -Limited specs. Intel and/or Microsoft said that a netbook had to have no more than 1 GB of RAM, no more than 10'' screen.
    -Crappy Starter edition of Windows 7.
    -Crappy GPU.

    A 10'' screen, that can still be fine with a 1366x768 resolution but is an absolute horror with 1024x600 resolution. The 1 GB limitation in RAM was acceptable when netbooks came with Windowx XP, but it clearly isn't enough for Windows 7.

    Now, for a few dollars more than what is called a netbook, you can have more RAM, big hard drive, full Windows 7 Home Premium, screen between 10 and 15 inches and with AMD's APU with built-in ATI graphics...

    Why settle for the "netbook experience" when a few dollars more offer so much more?
    • Netbook Problems

      You hit the nail on the head on this comment. I agree completely with what you are stating here. Sounds like a Netbook was built for XP without anybody taking note of the fact that the performance with Windows 7 would suffer. I have replaced the Started Edition of Windows 7 with Windows Home Premium, but it is still W7 32 bit. I use the native resolution of the larger monitor when I am using it with my Netbook which is 1920 X 1080.
      • For day to day development, office products, and browsing...

        My 11.6" screen, C50 with 4GB of RAM and W7 x64 performs just as well as my Dual Processor, Dual Core Xeon with 12GB of RAM that I use at work (when near a monitor, I plug it in of course, but I did that with my laptop as well - 24" vs anything but?). Sure, I could probably run more processes on my workstation if I had to, but that rarely pops up.

        Currently I am running Visual Studio 2010, SSMS 2008, a dozen or so browser Windows, and occassionally Word or opening an Excel document, and I see no issue here.

        As a developer, I can tell you first hand that this issue of performance is likely based on experience with underpowered, old architecture netbooks with limited RAM/resources. Our modern netbooks (read one to two years back until now) are fully up to par with the modern laptops, with the added benefit of being FAR more portable.

        My laptop, on the other hand, couldn't survive a trip across the U.S. on its battery, was constantly burning up when you did anything serious with it, so I donated it to my parents for a solitaire/web browsing machine. Not only that, I like the keyboard on this one over my HP one for some strange reason, and the weight? Forget about it.
      • Netbook success

        XP makes all the difference! My netbook is fast and capable (although videos are too choppy) and I use it every day. I find the convenience of small size (and low weight) more than compensates for the need to scroll more often. I just hide IE's toolbars, etc. and enjoy
  • Most of you are missing the point

    Netbooks were popular for many reasons, but at least in my experience it was not cost that was the driving factor, but long battery life and the ability to run real programs (MS Office, mainframe access, etc) in a small, lightweight form factor. We have many of them in daily use in our organization as a compliment to my user's desktop systems and for field use, and they are still popular. I have several more budget requests coming in even now.

    Can an iPad or Android tablet run MS Office? Maybe some day, but not now. Can they attach to our mainframe and run our text based vertical apps? Perhaps, but a touch screen device is poorly suited to that purpose. Can a laptop run all day on one charge? Of course not. My users simply put their netbooks in their brief cases and take them everywhere, a huge improvement over lugging a laptop bag around.

    Finally, in answer to lepoete73 above, all of my netbooks have 2GB RAM and perform very well with traditional office apps.
    • Well said,

      I think a lot of people forget that large corporations have very smart people who are paid to figure out what the market wants or needs. I definitely think Netbooks fill a niche. Will it be huge market, probably not. But for some people and some industries it will be the right fit. They may still be a better tool for education where smaller hands (and better eyes) predominate.
    • Most of you are missing the point

      Exactly...Tablet fans miss the point that some things are still better left to a traditional form factor. Once you look past the sleek, cool factor that tablets bring you have to look at the big picture and productivity doesn't mesh well with tablets. Tablets are neat and fun but they can't outperform traditional platforms when it comes to productivity. Let's put a benchmark together for office productivity and see how a tablet rates against a PC or laptop. That benchmark and the results wouldn't make the news because an Apple hitman will take you down before you can tap or click send! Tablets have a long way to go but Windows 8 will help because I see it being a better interface for productivity where as Android and IOS are more like toys.
  • I didn't believe in netbooks...

    Until I tried one. I have an Aspire One 11.6" (AMD C50 - dual core) running W7 with 4GB of RAM and a 500GB HD. I don't think I'd trade this for a tablet or a laptop. It's extremely light weight, and appears to perform perfectly for video and computing (as a programmer, I put it through its paces). It gets ~7 hours of battery life, and doesn't get too hot. I can throw it in a small bag, and have a FULL computing device on the go. The keyboard doesn't feel small, even though I have larger hands.

    It suffers on gaming, but perhaps that's what Intel is trying to fix with this new project. To me, my tablets are for gaming and light entertainment (my desktop and 360 are for "serious" gaming). If I want to get real work done on the go, my Aspire is the only device that completely fits the bill. The truth is that 95% of laptops under $1500 choke when introduced to gaming, so I don't even see why that would be of any concern.

    Netbooks weren't that popular, but after a few months of owning one that I only paid $200 for on E-Bay (with heavy skepticism), I can't figure out for the life of me why not.
  • Some value with Netbooks

    I have a Dell Mini 10V that I bought to get better acquainted with Mac OSX and it is now installed with Windows XP. With both operating systems, the video performance is so poor, the built in webcam is unusable. Addressing graphics and keeping the prices down could keep the Netbook alive. I don't personally understand using a tablet with 4 or 5 add on devices. The built in full keyboard and weight make the netbook useful to many. I have personally found the netbook to be handy for network configuration work on client sites.
  • Darn code names.

    ceder bridge, ivory towers, sandy beaches, (I know I purposely got these mixed up)
    how can any SANE person keep up?
  • Netbooks

    The main problem with my Netbook is lack of memory. I originally came with 1 gig of ram which I updated to 2. The Processor is an Atom 550 which has a dual core with hyper threading. I think that if had come with a 64 bit version of W7 and 4 to 8 gig of ram, I would be a lot more satisfied. Trying to keep cost of Netbooks down by holding them to 2 gig of ram and a 32 bit version of W7 significantly cut performance. I like the form factor of a Netbook, but for me personally the way they have been supplied with only 2 gig of ram makes them too slow if you really want to put anything on it. a 2 gig plus 4 core processor and 4 gig of ram would have really make a difference to me. Right now, I have my 10" ASUS Netbook connected to a 23 inch monitor to make it easier to use. I will likely opt for a W8 Laptop with SSD when I replace it. I have certain expectations when it comes to a computer, and my current Netbook is not meeting them. Of course I only use it intermittently, so it is tolerable in that situation.
  • Can't see myself moving backward to netbooks now

    I started out using a multi-monitor desktop. Then I added a big laptop for portability. It was obviously easier to move than a desktop, but still bulky and heavy with crap battery life, so the power brick and extra batteries were mandatory even for short durations. So, I got a smaller slimmer laptop. The bulk was reduced, but I still had to carry a separate bag because the battery life was still too short and I had to carry not only the lappy, but the big power brick and an extra battery.

    Then, came netbooks. When I saw battery life of 6-8 hours and how small they were, I was sold. When I got my netbook, I instantly stopped using my laptops. It wasn't as fast, but the convenience was worth the trade off in speed. I didn't have to carry extra batteries or the power brick. The entire computer fit inside my briefcase, so I didn't have to carry two bags everywhere. I was hooked but still heard others stubbornly saying there was no point to owning a netbook. It boggled my mind that some didn't see the value in long battery life and small size.

    Then, I got an iPad. Longer battery life. Lighter. Slimmer. I was able to find applications for editing Word and Excel documents. I found games that were far more fun than anything I was playing on my laptops or netbook. I even found apps for remotely operating my desktop. Heck, I even found apps I had always wanted for my desktop but couldn't find. When I got my first iPad, I instantly stopped using my netbook. I upgraded to the biggest iPad 3 with 4G and now I'm even happier. In my mind, I just can't see going backward to a thicker, heavier, device with shorter battery life and fewer easily available programs. I was a die-hard netbook fan and now I'll never go back. I feel like netbooks were an in-between step to get us to what we really needed: tablets.

    For the people just now discovering netbooks, do yourself a favor and skip ahead. Try out an iPad. Go to the app store and look at what's available. You'll realize you don't really need Windows or desktop OS X running on a laptop to do work on the road and entertain yourself in airports. The iPad is far more convenient than lugging laptop or even netbook equipment around. Slide it into your briefcase and you're done. For those times when you plan to create a lot of content, you can even use it with a slim, light, Bluetooth keyboard.

    Bottom line? The netbook era is over. Some special case uses will continue to exist, but they will be fewer and fewer as time moves forward. Tablet computers have eaten, and are continuing to eat, the netbook and low-end laptop markets. Even Ultrabooks are going to have a hard time competing. Truly portable computing is here and there is no going back.
    • About the same experience

      Had two netbooks so far, one 10" another 11" (couldn't stand the 1024x600 resolution as most applications are not designed for this resolution). Both were wonderful for their long battery life and light weight. After the first one, my 15" (!) workstation laptop never left home -- I would use it as desktop for it's larger and higher resolution screen and faster CPU.

      Then came the iPad and changed everything.

      For most people, this is very confusing. They expect that for the thing to be 'computer' it has to run Windows. Wrong. There is life beyond Windows. Muct more colorful and productive. Computers are not standalone anymore and if you look outside the window (pun intended) you will see much larger land with other species.
  • IMHO...

    In my opinion tablets are a god damn joke and always will be if they're using iOS or Android in its current state.
    I would definitely get a netbook if they stepped up the power a notch. I think if you've decided you're not playing games on it, then that amount of power is fine for me. Netbooks in their current state however, are simply not.
  • Wrong link

    I tried three times to get to "Study: More than 50% of Global 500 use vulnerable open source components" by clicking on the link, and always get here. ZDNet, you have a problem.
    • Happened here too

      I think ZDNet got cracked over their open sores software.
  • First quarter of 2013 is a very long road ahead

    2013's first quarter is a very long road to go, but it will be interesting to see it with a energy efficient OS like Windows 8. I will liked the article if it showed some comparison against current chips if it is worth it.
  • netbooks are still usefull

    We use them everyday in K-12. They have XP Pro or Windows 7 Pro on them, join the domain, and log onto the network. I can install any printer we have on the netbooks and share network resources for the users. The Dell 2120's we use are rugged and very popular with the children. Personally, I'd rather take a netbook with me on a motorcycle trip than my tablet.