Report: Shrink to 32 nm could yield lower Atom prices

Transitions to finer manufacturing processes often bring higher performance per dollar, but they rarely yield outright price cuts. That convention might change with the arrival of Intel's 32-nm Cedar Trail Atom processors. Quoting several anonymous sources at netbook makers, SemiAccurate says Cedar Trail chips will be anywhere from 30% to 50% cheaper than their current-generation counterparts.

The site talks of two netbook-bound Cedar Trail processors: the Atom N2600, which will reportedly be priced at $42, and the Atom N2800, which Intel will sell for just five dollars more. Both of these chips will have dual cores fabbed using Intel's 32-nm process technology. SemiAccurate also expects "dramatically" smaller thermal envelopes that will enable fanless designs.

For what it's worth, Intel's official price list pins single-core versions of current, netbook-bound Atoms at $64-75. The only dual-core offerings are both priced at $86. SemiAccurate expects the cheaper Cedar Trail offerings will pave the way for netbooks priced as low as $200.

Ultra-affordable netbooks with long battery life sound enticing for sure, but I'm more interested to see what 32-nm Atom chips bring to the tablet arena—and whether they manage to shake the current dominance of ARM-based silicon. I suppose we'll find out later this year.

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