With Pine Trail’s imminent arrival, Intel turns to nettops

Hoping to build on the success of netbooks like Acer’s AspireOne, Intel wants to prove that its Pine Trail chip package can do for desktops what the first Atom processors did for laptops.

Pine Trail is a package of chips built around Pineview, an upcoming version of the Atom processor that includes an integrated memory controller and graphics chip. By combining the memory controller and graphics with the processor, Intel was able to reduce the current Atom chip package from three chips to two — Pineview and the Tiger Point chipset. This means the chips take up less space and consume less power than the current generation.

Intel hopes the new chips will generate more demand for Atom-based desktops, which it calls nettops.

But even a big jump in nettop shipments next year means sales will still lag far behind demand for netbooks, which IDC expects will top 30 million units next year.

Whether or not nettop demand nears the level seen for netbooks over the last two years remains to be seen, and is by no means assured. The laptop market is growing at a much faster clip than that for desktops, and while Atom-based laptops may have cannibalized some laptop sales, these machines also tapped into end-user demand for inexpensive laptops that can be easily carried around — a segment that had largely been ignored by computer makers before Atom’s release.

Intel is betting there is a sizable market for nettops and believes it can be tapped with all-in-one systems. In these types of systems the motherboard and other parts of the computer are built into the back of a flat-screen monitor, like Apple’s iMac.

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