Intel now shipping Atom N280 processor

Intel confirmed on Thursday that it’s shipping the Atom N280 processor to PC makers, which should bring more performance and improved graphics capabilities to netbooks.

The new single-core Atom processor is paired with a chipset that allows users to watch high-definition content on netbooks while drawing less power. The new GN40 chipset includes a hardware-based high-definition video decoder that allows users to watch 720p HD video content.

Intel originally perceived Atom chips for netbooks to run basic applications like Web surfing and productivity applications. The capability to decode HD video should allow netbooks to better handle streaming video content, said Bill Calder, an Intel spokesman.

Previous Atom chips — like the Atom N270 with the 945GSE chipset — do not include hardware-based HD video decoders. Seeing a void, companies like Nvidia released products to improve netbook graphics capabilities. Nvidia’s Ion platform allows netbooks to display 1080p content, for example.

The Atom N280 runs at 1.66GHz, a marginal speed increase over the N270, which runs at 1.6GHz. The new processor also has a faster front-side bus that runs at 667MHz. The front-side bus helps connect the CPU to system components. The Intel Atom N280 processor draws about 2.5 watts of power, similar to the N270.

Intel did not disclose pricing of the chip.

The N280 will power Asus’ $399 Eee PC 1000HE netbook, which the PC maker claims offers up to 9.5 hours of battery life. No shipping date for the netbook has been announced, though Amazon is taking preorders for the laptop.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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