Netbooks Are Back in Business With the Intel Atom Cedar Trail Processor

The Rise and Fall of the Netbook

Processor-IconIn 2007 a new kind of computer arrived on the scene: The netbook. The netbook was small (typically around 10 inches in size) compared to most other laptops on the market. They eschewed pricier components such as optical drives and focused instead upon portability and the ability to do simple tasks.

For those that used their computers for basic computing like surfing the web, simple word processing, and light gaming, netbooks were a low cost alternative to other laptops. They enjoyed a great deal of popularity for a few years until tablets made their debut. While not really faster or significantly more portable, they were big sellers and have taken a significant share of the netbook market.

The Cedar Trail Processor: A New Beginning?

However, netbooks are poised to make a comeback. Chip maker Intel, whose Atom processor started the whole netbook phenomenon back in 2007, released a new netbook chip, codenamed “Cedar Trail”, that improves upon all predecessors and will allow netbooks to perform computing tasks that were previously not possible for them.

The Cedar Trail version of the Atom chip is a dual-core chip and has two processors, the N2800, which operates at 1.86 GHz, and the N2600, which operates at 1.6 GHz. Both processors contain integrated graphics processors, which is common for netbooks. Having integrated graphics processing allows for space saving and decreased power consumption.

Decreased Power Consumption and More

The decreased power consumption leads, not unexpectedly, to longer battery life, but also will give netbook manufacturers the option of building their machines without fans. Not only will having no fan increase battery life even more, it will also provide more space for whatever other components the manufacturers decide to add.

Aside from power savings, the new chips also support full 1080p playback, HDMI, and Blu-Ray 2.0. With the price of these chips remaining extremely affordable ($47 for the N2800 and $42 for the N2600), the price for netbooks has actually decreased compared to what they were selling for at their introduction. For example, a netbook running Intel’s original Atom processor and 1 GB of memory could cost anywhere from $300 to $500. With the new Cedar Trail chip, a netbook like the Asus EEE PC X101CH-EU17 can come in at a price of around only $250.

Faster, thinner, more versatile, and less expensive

Based on what netbooks using the Cedar Trail chip can do in comparison to tablets, there is a strong possibility that netbooks can regain some of the portable computing market that they have lost. As tablet prices continue to rise and netbook prices continue to drop, users may realize that tablets, which have only limited usefulness, represent a meager value compared to the newer netbooks.

In addition to the improved features and lower price of these new netbooks, they are also thinner than ever before. The Acer Aspire One Netbook with the N2600 processor is only an inch thick. The small size of the processor does more while taking up less space.

A Promising Future

While tablets are certainly enjoying their time in the sun, the new Cedar Trail processor-powered netbooks are going to give them a run for the money. Boasting greater computing power and features at an extremely affordable price, these new netbooks are a great option for those looking for portable computers that will handle a wide variety of tasks.