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back to article Atom challengers poised for 2009 debut

2009 promises to be the Year of the Dual-Core Netbook, what with low-power dualies from Freescale, AMD, and VIA Technologies poised to join Intel's dual-core Atom 330. AMD's and VIA's are full-fledged dual-core processors and Freescale's chip, a new member of its i.MX family, will include dual graphics cores that provide OpenVG …

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Flame

expand?

not by much.

VIA? Ok. AMD? ok, but motorola? people are not looking for netbooks which are based on non X86 compatible chip, which means people won't buy them, unless of-course, another IHV wants to put them on their device which is not targeted at ASUS/Lenovo/Dell/MSI/LG netbook market

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Good in principle

But Intel clearly delivered a turnkey solution with Atom. The name brands merely had to contract the manufacture of the netbooks, not design them because Intel had done that already.

I'm all for competition but putting a CPU on the table is not the whole game. The brands will not adopt the non-Intle chips if they have to spend the money to design a netbook. I have some doubts about AMD, Via and Freescale being able to give the name brands a finished product they can just stamp a name on.

Give some thought to the fate of the HP 2133. Built in-house, superior even to Asus 1000, killed off for the profit margin of free Intel engineering.

I'll keep my fingers crossed though.

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Freescale announcing? TI is shipping!

While Freescale is announcing a new MX design, TI already has one shipping, the OMAP3530 using the Imagination/PowerVR SGX GPU (the one also in Intel's U15W Atom chipset) and a "cute" sample board at http://beagleboard.org/ running Linux and offering full HD format DVI video output.

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Coat

Re Good in principle

You are mistaken.

Nearly all via netbooks use via reference platform for Tablet PC. None of the manufacturers is doing any design either. This includes the HP2133 which is a classic example for a via tablet reference design.

They all are killed by the ultimate bane of all Via motherboards - the S3 derived video. Let's face it - its performance is not on par with the rather weak Intel onboard videos even on the few MBs where it uses dedicated memory. Example - the average CPU load on a Via C7M clocked at 1GHz playing Planet Earth to 1280x1024 screen is around 70%+. The system barely copes. Put an nvidia in and voila - loadaverage is down to 30%.

It is the weak video subsystem that stops Via from doing any inroads in this area. They are trying to compensate by adding bells and whistles like mpeg accel and so on, but all of these are rather pointless if the underlying performance is so low that the consumer can notice it straight away.

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Anonymous Coward

VIA platform (@E)

For some time now VIA have offered their own platform for embedded x86 computing (usually taking the form of mini-ITX). CPU, chipset, and graphics. That has been born of necessity, as VIA's processors could never compete with Intel and AMD on perfomance.

So the HP 2133 is really a "VIA platform" system.

It failed in the market because it is over-engineered to an extent where it cannot be sold at a competitive price point, and the operating system choice is (was) business rather than consumer oriented - SLED or Vista Business, whatever were they thinking???

Having picked up one of those end-of-life SLED 2133s for a bit less than 200 quid, I'm rather grateful for that strategic error (at least, once Suse had been replaced by Ubuntu).)

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hp2133

i bought a very cheap hp2133 recently, but it was fitted with a painfully slow via c7m 1.2ghz...:\

unfortunately, hp decided that the cpu's were to be soldered in, so you cannot even change them. i know i open the whole thing up had a look..

pff...pc's can always change their cpu's?!

btw, if you are a hp2133 owner, you can remove the internal plastic grills from the hot air exit points and improve air flow and therefore temperature, by a not inconsiderable amount.

guide here:

http://www.hp2133guide.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=364&sid=9e59ac3101b3cb0b86d6d41bc1927268

also the thermal paste hp use is more like plasticene. remove all this and get some proper paste on there and the infamous heat problem of hp2133's is improved.

why do all sorrts of laptops seem to have their exhausts going downwards from the back, so basically you heat your er, lap? why not have the go straight out the back or up thru the lid or something?

anyway..someone is working on changing the cpu for the hp, worse ways i could slap a 1.6ghz mobo and cpu soldered combo in there, but not even sure if that will be enough..or sell it to someone and wait for something with beef to come along ^^

cheers,

bill

p.s. stuff and nonsense: http://www.eupeople.net/forum

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Flame

Err, about that "dualie"

Lappy we killed. Mobe we killed. Another year, and a fashionable new spelling for that incorrigible final phoneme.

Apart from that, yes - I see Lenovo are keeping the price of their nice X200 high and forcing you to take the docking station when I rather wouldn't.

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Silver badge

@expand?

I am not wedded to the X86 chip, the one that really interests me is the ARM offering, low power means better battery life and/or a reduced electricity bill. Linux works on ARM.

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@alain williams

Although you do have a point to some extent, what percentage of linux apps is available for ARM? That is important for a system that is supposed to enjoy any wideish addoption.

A well rounded software bundle may bridge the gap to some extent and continous addition of new apps by the system vendor would help further so it is feisable, but obviously there are obstacles to pushing ARM based systems, especially since this would mean additional expenses for the manufacturer in a market segment where low cost is paramount, and the fact that the systems in question will be among the weakest of the already underpowered bunch doesn't help either.

Perhaps ARMs would do on a handheld device (an MID, ultraportable or whatever they decide to call it). As I've read somewhere, if it looks like other computers, people expect it to do everything other computers do, but in a slightly different form factor, people may be sathisfied with what it has to offer.

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Anonymous Coward

Spin

ATOM was Intel's attempt to beat ARM in small hand-held devices. Since it is not so good in that arena the new category of "netbook" has been created for it to supposedly dominate in.

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Linux

@ "expand" AC

The same was said about Linux netbooks, and what we've found out is that some people that have never used Linux before like 'em, some don't.

If the performance and power consumption profiles are there, who really cares about the processor architecture? And if you've already made the leap away from Windows then you probably won't notice a difference.

Who really cares if it's x86?

Tux, because he's hardware agnostic.

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@E_Nigma

"Although you do have a point to some extent, what percentage of linux apps is available for ARM? That is important for a system that is supposed to enjoy any wideish addoption."

Debian runs on ARM chips. It's the largest (in terms of software packages) distribution in existence.

And when the system is there, it's pretty much just a matter of rebuilding the software on the new system, which you can do because it's open source. Hurrah for flexibility.

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Are these dual core chips 64-bit?

I'm a bit surprised that the article didn't mention whether any of these new dual core chips will be 64-bit. I'm holding off buying a netbook until there's one available with 4GB RAM, dual core, 64-bit and doesn't eat battery life. Why should the small form factor mean lower spec - if one crops up for 300 quid or less, I'll be the first in line...

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I Didn't Know That!

In that case, I want those now! Seriously, there's nothing wrong with cheap, cool (in thermal sense), lightweight and high-authonomy laptops that come loaded with apps that will do more or less everything that I'll ever want to do on them and that have the neccessary drivers for external drives, mice, cameras, etc (and I suppose that a modern major linux distribution has all that). :D

And if I can make a special request to all the netbook manufacturers everywhere, please make 1024*768 screens an option. Widescreen does seem to be all the rage, but it really isn't good for much other than movies and it's especially bad for web browsing and text processing and a vertical resolution of 600px is not what it used to be in those SVGA days.

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@Richard Lloyd

I know what you're saying, but why don't you also ask for a skoda with a ferrari engine in while you're at it?

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Replies

The nice bit abotu the HP2133 was the screen, which, at 1280x768, is somewhat useable. For some reason no other netbooks seem to want to go above 1024x600, which is somewhat unuseable.

I suspect that manufacturers realize that if they sell netbooks with a useful screen, then they will cut into their real laptop sales. Plus it seems to have become a standard, so they've got a psuedo excuse for not making decent screens available.

I'm also not attached to the x86 arch, which I think is mostly popular because of politics instead of actual merit. As long as the Freescale chip has an FPU, which some ARM chips (looking at whatever is in the Nokia N8xx line here) seem to neglect. I imagine that it will be on there, since it seems like you'd put an FPU on there before two GPUs.

I'd really be more interested in a PPC netbook, which will never happen since I believe the market for such a device would be about 8 people, but Freescale could help out if it did happen.

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Is more power really needed for a netbook?

Honestly, I think that the ARM architecture is probably the most promising.

I have an MSI Wind (originaly SLED replaced by Ubuntu) and perforpmance is excellent for everything except video editing and playing HD videos (720P videos are really at the limit), but then these are not tasks a netbook is designed for.

On a linux machine I don't see why 64 bits or 4 Gbs or ram would be needed, under ubuntu 512 Mb is quite confortable and 1 GB is more than enough (I haven't rebootet my wind in 3 weeks and I am using about 450 Mb of memory and 60 mb of swap, with 3 apps open).

What we need is better video acceleration under linux, and netbooks delivered with a decent distibution, not more powerful processors. More effiicient processors (as consuming less battery) on the other hand that would be interesting...

Now if you wnat to run the archi-bloated windows Vista / 7 then 4 Gbs and a dual core 64 bits processor are probably required for confortable usage, but then I don't call this a netbook anymore.

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Ubuntu is supporting ARM

With Ubuntu officially supporting ARM processors there is a real chance that ARM based netbooks would have the apps you need and want available from a simple package manager.

If it works then it doesn’t matter what the underlying architecture is.

It’s not like you will be changing the graphics card, or hard disk controller.

With netbooks expansion is limited to SD/USB slots.

I’m excited to see what comes out in the 2H 09

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