Intel has begun shipping the Atom N280 processor to PC makers.
The chip is designed to bring more performance and improved graphics capabilities to a range of netbooks including the Asus Eee PC.
The new single-core Atom processor is paired with a chipset that allows users to watch high-definition content on netbooks, while drawing less power. The new GN40 chipset includes a hardware-based high-definition video decoder that allows users to watch 720p HD video content.
Intel originally perceived Atom chips for netbooks to run basic applications such as web surfing and productivity applications. The capability to decode HD video should allow netbooks to better handle streaming video content, said an Intel spokesman.
Previous Atom chips, such as the Atom N270 with the 945GSE chipset, do not include hardware-based HD video decoders. Seeing a void, companies like Nvidia released products to improve netbook graphics capabilities. Nvidia's Ion platform allows netbooks to display 1080p content, for example.
The Atom N280 runs at 1.66GHz, a marginal speed increase over the N270, which runs at 1.6GHz. The new processor also has a faster front-side bus that operates at 667MHz. The front-side bus helps connect the CPU to system components. The Intel Atom N280 processor draws about 2.5 watts of power, similar to the N270.
Intel did not disclose pricing of the chip.
The N280 will power Asus' Eee PC 1000HE netbook, which the PC maker claims has up to 9.5 hours of battery life. No shipping date for the netbook has been announced.