Report: Upcoming dual-core netbooks to cost up to $399

A new breed of netbook could soon nip at the heels of consumer ultraportables, at least on the pricing ladder. According to Fudzilla, Intel will introduce a dual-core Atom N550 processor targeted specifically at netbooks next quarter, and the chipmaker will suggest pricing of $349-399 for systems based on the new CPU.

Word is that the Atom N550 will run at 1.5GHz with 1MB of cache and an 8.5W thermal envelope. The existing Atom N450, by contrast, has just a single core ticking at 1.66GHz with 512KB of cache and a 5.5W TDP.

According to Fudzilla, Intel's "recommended configuration" for N550-based netbook includes a display size of 7" to 10.2", 1GB of DDR3 memory, and either a 20-32GB solid-state drive or a 250GB mechanical hard drive. If priced at $399, such systems could go toe-to-toe with arguably better-endowed consumer ultraportables like Acer's Aspire AS1410.

Of course, $399 would hardly be the high-water mark for dual-core netbook pricing. Asus' Eee PC 1201N, which couples the Atom 330 with Nvidia Ion integrated graphics, sells for a whopping $489.99 at Newegg. That netbook does have a 12.1" 1366x768 display and Windows 7 Home Premium, though.

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