Eee, Atom, Aspire, Wind: it’s a small world (for laptops) at Computex

By Eric Grevstad

06 June 2008

What comes after Eee? Everyone from HP and Acer to Dell and MSI, not to mention class leader Asus, wants to star in the second generation of compact, budget-friendly laptops that are perfect for light travel. This week’s Computex trade show is filled with ultraportable laptops known as netbooks, with Intel’s new Atom processor in an important supporting role – and Nvidia and VIA are waiting behind the scenes.

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Whether sold by generic resellers or by famous names like Dell and Apple, a huge percentage of PC hardware comes from Taiwan. That’s why the annual Computex show in Taipei always generates big news – the biggest of last year being Asusannouncement of the Eee PC for the promised price of $ 199.

Even though the two-pound, 7-inch screen subnotebook sticker had climbed to $ 400 by the time it hit retailers in October, the Eee was a smash hit for its carefree combination of ultra-portability, daily office productivity and wireless web. and access to electronic mail.

As Computex 2008 opens today, two new members of the Eee family play a leading role. But the same goes for serious competitors of Acer and MSI – with the three suppliers marking the start of Intelligencethe newest and smallest processor. During this time, VIA Technologies and Nvidia unveiled their own subcompact silicon.

Guide to best practices for high growth. The ultra-mobile laptop Windows platform (UMPC) that Microsoft touted in 2006 is dead, but its Linux and Windows-based successors – small affordable WiFi or 3G broadband wireless laptops called ultra-low-cost PCs. (ULCPC) or netbooks – are the new stars of the notebook market. And today’s second-generation models won’t be the last.

Atomic power

Formerly known by the code name “Diamondville”, the Intel Atom is a 45 nanometer processor in a small 22 mm by 22 mm (0.9 by 0.9 inch) package. It features 533 MHz front side bus speed and supports SSE, SSE2, and SSE3 streaming media extensions to x86 instruction set.

The single-core processor also contains 56KB of level 1 cache (24KB for data, 32KB for instructions) and 512KB of level 2 cache. Improved data preloader and register access manager anticipates data that the processor is likely to need and store them in the L2 cache to improve performance.

There are two versions of the Atom, both with a clock speed of 1.6 GHz. For netbooks, the Atom N270 has a low power thermal design (TDP) of 2.5 watts, along with other battery stretching tips – improved SpeedStep technology that supports more operating points. voltage and frequency, as well as a deeper sleep mode that flushes data from cache to system memory during periods of inactivity. The new integrated Intel 945GSE graphics chipset brings its own power saving features, including screen brightness which automatically adjusts to ambient light and backlight modulation which reduces power consumption while maintaining high performance. user’s brightness preferences.

Just as netbooks are the Honda Fit or Smart counterparts of full-size laptops, nettops are affordable, small-sized desktops that plug into wall outlets. With so much more power available, the TDP of the Atom 230 processor soars to 4 watts, while the 945GC chipset incorporates both high-definition audio and Intel’s graphics media accelerator for faster scene rendering.

The challengers …

Micro-Star International Corp. chose the Atom processor for the new MSI Wind, a 2.6-pound laptop available in white, black and pink. The name is an acronym for WiFi Network Device, although jokes about the “breaking wind” have already flooded the internet.

Measuring 7.1 x 10.2 x 1.2 inches, the Wind has a 10-inch display with a resolution of 1024 x 600, as well as a conventional 80 GB hard drive instead of a More expensive and lower capacity solid state hard drive (SSD) that uses flash memory. For comfortable typing, MSI says the keyboard’s 0.68 inch spacing between keys is close to the 0.75 inch of most desktop keyboards.

Equipped with Windows XP Home Edition, 1GB of DDR-2 memory, and a 6-cell battery that MSI rates at 5.5 hours of use, the Wind will sell for $ 499 at www.msimobile.com from June 16. A Linux-based version, priced at $ 399 with 512KB of RAM, is expected later this summer. As with all netbooks, there’s no built-in optical drive – CD and DVD fans will need to plug in an external USB device.

For its part, Acer introduced the Atom-based Aspire One, an 8.9-inch (1,024 of 600) subnotebook – or, to use the press release’s term, “communication device” – from 379 $ with a small keyboard and a user-friendly Linux interface. The latter, which organizes the screen into Connect, Works, Fun and Files areas, bears the unfortunate name of Linpus. Its features include an email client that manages up to six accounts, an instant messaging program and Skype, as well as the OpenOffice productivity suite.

Tipping the scale at around 2.2 pounds, measuring 6.7 by 9.8 by 1.1 inches and carrying an 8 GB solid-state drive, the Aspire One will be available next month in Sapphire Blue, Seashell White. , golden brown and (you guessed it) pink coral. Windows XP Home configuration with an 80 GB hard drive, as well as wireless 3G, are promised for the not-so-distant future. For the rest of this article click here.

Article courtesy of HardwareCentral.

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