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Intel could begin phasing out the Atom N280 chip and GN40 graphics chipset, reports Digitimes. Intel claims the Atom N280 cancellation is due to low demand. The 280 CPU runs at 1.66GHz, has faster bus speed, uses less power while the GN40 chipset is designed to offer somewhat better graphics performance.

Acer, Asus, and a few other companies use the newer N280 chips in their latest mini-laptops, but many other companies are sticking with the older Intel Atom N270/945GSE chipset. The best selling netbook on Amazon has been the Asus 1000HE, for example, uses the N280.

The Atom N280 was actually an off-roadmap chip that was designed to help fill the demand for netbook processors while Intel prepared its next generation Pineview processors and Tiger Point chipsets, says Liliputing. Those are due out this fall.

Pineview will feature a 45nm process and built-in northbridge functions, including a memory controller and integrated graphics processor. Paired with the new Tiger Point southbridge chip, the new netbook platform codenamed Pine Trail-M will be offered at an even lower cost than previous generations. Pineview’s integrated CPU+northbridge design will reduce the amount of motherboard realestate used by up to 60% while the maximum TDP will drop from 8W to 7W, and average power consumption will be only 2W. The CPU will also be capable of using a fanless design.

It may be available by second half of 2009 in both single and duo core versions and is expected to penetrate into existing MID (Mobile Internet Device) and UMPC (Ultra Mobile PCs) as well as netbooks.

Netbooks powered by Nvidia’s Ion platform (above) use the same Atom processor, but replace the two-chip Intel graphic solution with the GeForce 9400M, the same chipset used in the latest Apple MacBook among other laptops. VIA is also working on a low power Nano 3000 processor, expected to launch around the end of 2009 or early 2010 while AMD plans for Conesus.

The highest-end ($1,200 and higher) machines will run the long-awaited dual-core “Calpella” platform. Midrange machines ($700-$1,000) will get CULV-based processors with low-voltage dual-core CPUs for better performance than netbooks.

Intel’s latest-generation microarchitecture, in the Intel Core i7 processor, uses high-speed interconnects on each processing core. Intel is launching those Calpella quad-core notebook chips in the third quarter. Look for them in new MacBook Pros around that timeframe.

While Capella is designed for high performance laptops, Nehalem is their quad core architecture for desktops. The first Nehalem chips will arrive later this year. Intel’s mid-range notebook processor uses Consumer Ultra-Low-Voltage (CULV) and are due in June. They are expected to be priced just above Netbooks. The CULV design, based on current-generation Core 2 (Montevina) technology, will most likely be used in systems with 12- or 13-inch screens and prices between $699 and $1,200.

One in five laptops shipped in Q1 2009 was a Netbook. Manufacturers shipped nearly 6 million of the mini-laptops in Q1, with Acer leading the market with a 30.5% share. Hewlett-Packard dominated the laptop market, shipping more than 7.3 million units, for a 24.1% share.

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