Intel drops dual-core Atom into half-inch thick netbook

As expected, Computex is awash with new tablets and netbooks based on Intel's Atom processor. Surprisingly, one of the most impressive systems comes from the chipmaker itself. Intel has unveiled an ultra-thin netbook concept that measures just over half an inch (14 mm) thick.

Dubbed Canoe Lake, this "innovation platform" is purportedly 50% thinner than any other netbook on the market. Intel says the system runs cooler than existing designs, as well. What's even more striking about that claim is that Canoe Lake packs a fresh mobile variant of Intel's dual-core Atom CPU. Based on the Pine Trail core, this new Atom is one of four new models to debut with support for DDR3 memory.

On the mobile front, the DDR3-enabled Atoms will go under the model numbers N455 and N475. The former is the single-core flavor, while the second has dual cores. These CPUs will make their way into the low-end desktops known as "nettops" under the names D425 and D525, too. Intel already has these D- and N-series Atoms in production, although the mobile versions won't arrive in systems until this holiday season. Nettops with D-series CPUs will be available starting on June 21.

The dual-core Atom netbooks could prove especially appealing given that Intel is widely expected to support larger display sizes and resolutions in the 11.6"-12.1" range for such systems.

In addition to pimping Atom CPUs that will make their way into systems this year, Intel is teasing a new Oak Trail system-on-chip due in 2011. Details are scarce at the moment, but the Atom-based Oak Trail platform is claimed to deliver "up to a 50 percent reduction in average power consumption with full HD-video playback." Oak Trail is almost surely derived from Intel's Moorestown platform, so it will likely support robust acceleration of H.264 video decoding. It's unclear whether Oak Trail will be a single- or dual-core design, but Intel says it's targeted at "sleek" tablets and netbooks. Interestingly, Oak Trail will launch with support for MeeGo Linux, Windows 7, and "Google operating systems," which would seem to suggest support for both Android and Chrome OS. No mention of WebOS, though.

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