Intel Launches Atom N550 Armada

Intel has unveiled a new Atom processor, the N550, which is a dual core model that runs at 1.5GHz and supports DDR3 memory; this 45nm Pineview model has a slightly higher TDP of 8.5W due partly to the integrated GPU and memory controller.

The N550 also offers Hyper-threading, support for 2GB RAM, 1MB L2 cache and 64-bit compatibility; unfortunately, the onboard graphics module is still anemic and Intel has oddly chosen to reduce the frequency of the processor by 100MHz, possibly because of power dissipation concerns.

A number of netbooks powered by the new component have been announced already from the likes of Acer, Toshiba, Fujitsu, Lenovo, Samsung, LG and countless others lesser known brands.

Devices powered by the N550 are expected to have the same battery life but should improve performance by up to 100 per cent, just in time for AMD's Ontario-based slim laptops which should come to the market over the next few months.

More than 70 million netbooks with Intel Atom processors have been sold since they were introduced in 2008, a category from which AMD deliberately chose to stay away from.

Intel is likely to face AMD and ARM in 2011 as both companies vie to get a chunk of the booming MID (Mobile Internet Device) market where power consumption and performance are equally important.