The new Atom platform, known as Pine Trail, integrates the graphics and memory-controller on to the same piece of silicon as the CPU. Minor other improvements allow manufacturers to have similar performance to first-generation Atom - N450 and N280 both run at 1.67GHz - but, crucially, with lower power-draw.
That's why we're seeing a greater number of 'Atom 2' netbooks marketed with better battery life, usually to the tune of 25 per cent over first generation models. For example, Samsung's N220, pictured above, is now reckoned to have two hours extra juice, although such claims can be misleading as manufacturers tend to slip in high-density batteries when it suits their marketing purposes.
The lower power-draw and simpler PCB design also enables manufacturers to use sleeker, lighter form factors than were available with the older Atom chip. MSI's U160, pictured above, is a case in point.
Trouble is, better mobile longevity comes at a price. We spoke to a number of netbook manufacturers and most indicated that Pine Trail-based netbooks will carry a $30-$50 surcharge over incumbent netbooks, with Atom N2x0-based models falling by around $20. Samsung's N220 is an otherwise standard netbook that costs £335.
Manufacturers will further differentiate their product stack by optionally equipping their models with dedicated logic for HD support - be that from Broadcom or, later, from NVIDIA's ION 2.
Interestingly, practically all the new Atom netbooks we saw were running Windows 7 Starter...and that may have something to do with the fact that Microsoft's stand was adjacent to Intel's.