Intel trumpeted the arrival of its low-power, Core 2 ISA-matching Atom processor a month ago and reckoned that the all-new 45nm processor would be a perfect fit for MIDs (mobile Internet devices) and for two low-cost categories defined at netbooks and nettops.
Netbooks, as per Intel's thinking, can be thought of as cut-down laptops that are designed with the Internet in mind. As such, they'll be equipped with the cheap-to-produce Atom processor - in its Diamondville variant, and, most likely, with a small-ish solid-state drive, sub-10in screen - and retail for under $300. ASUS' revised Eee PC is a case in point. Expect to see a plethora of Atom-based netbooks released this summer.
Intel also reckons that the total available market for netbooks will constitute around 45M units by 2011. A nascent market with huge potential, if Intel is right.
On a similar note, nettops are the logical desktop counterparts, outfitted with the same hyperthreaded Diamondville processor, albeit at higher speeds, and furnished with el-cheapo components - perfect for emerging markets or for use as a second or third PC, where power-computing isn't the primary criterion.
Intel, though, appreciates that the single-core Diamondville Atom, pulling around 3W under load, may not cut the mustard in a desktop environment, but has been quiet on whether a dual-core model is in the offing.
However, the company is now confirming reports that Atom will be offered as a dual-core SKU, sat on top of a D945 chipset-based motherboard.
What's unknown and unlikely to be divulged this week is whether the chip will feature double the single-core 512KiB L2 cache, or, indeed, if it will be clocked higher than the 1.87GHz that's been bandied about.
A dual-core model makes implicit sense to us, seeing as the still-tiny chip, even with two full processing cores, should still be cheaper to produce than the incumbent Celeron. Expect to see dual-core Atom nettops appear in late 2008 and priced at $200 for a base model.