Intel intros dual-core netbook chip

Intel is attempting to squeeze a bit more oomph out of your average netbook, by releasing a dual-core Atom chip that's specifically aimed at low-power mini portables.

The Atom N550 is clocked at 1.5GHz, and also supports Intel's Hyper-Threading technology, meaning it can process up to four threads simultaneously.

According to Intel, the new chip enables "a more responsive experience" than the single-core 1.66GHz Atom N450, without having to increase the size of the chassis or sacrifice battery life.

That's not to say that the netbook power budget won't be affected at all by the addition of the second core. According to Intel, the N550 has a maximum TDP of 8.5W, which is admirably low, but still 3W above the maximum TDP of the N450.

Each of the N550's cores is bolstered by 512KB of Level 2 cache, but the chip is otherwise very similar to the N450. The new CPU is fabricated on a 45nm process, and comes in an identically sized 22 x 22nm chip package.

It also features integrated Intel GMA 3150 graphics, and supports up to 2GB of 667MHz DDR3 memory via its integrated memory controller.

Intel is kicking off the launch with a number of netbooks, which will either be available shortly or released throughout the year. According to Intel, the list of launch partners includes Acer, Asus, Fujitsu, Lenovo, LG, Samsung, MSI and Toshiba.

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