Intel unveils new, dual-core Atom for netbooks

Pine Trail netbooks are going dual-core! Intel officially introduced its new Atom N550 processor earlier this morning, adding that systems based on it are "available in stores today." Acer, Asus, Fujitsu, Lenovo, LG, Samsung, MSI, and Toshiba are all on board, with N550-powered netbooks due to appear anytime between now and the end of the year, according to Intel.

As the comparison chart below shows, the Atom N550 has much in common with the Atom N450, but it raises the core count, scales back the clock speed, and adds DDR3 memory support:

Intel boasts that the N550 will let users enjoy "similar great battery life as the single-core Intel Atom processor N450," all the while benefiting from "new levels of support for applications like games, as well as Adobe Flash* technology for access to a number of Web pages including online hotel booking systems and multimedia sites such as YouTube* and Hulu*." I don't know about you guys, but I've never felt more held back by netbooks than when making hotel reservations online—those JavaScript menus on the Days Inn website need some serious computing power.

In all seriousness, tossing in an extra core without killing battery life sounds pretty good to me. Intel's claims about instant availability seem a little over-optimistic, though. Searching for "N550" at either Newegg or Amazon yields no results. Hitting Google with a similar search only brings up this story about an Aspire One netbook that isn't even up on the Acer site just yet.

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