Intel has started volume shipping of its second Atom N280 processor to PC manufacturers. Already Asus’s new Eee 1000HE netbook is equipped with this new processor. More significant is the release of new GN40 graphic chipset to accompany the new processor. Vendors now have a choice of using the older GMA 950 chipset with N280 or have more graphics power using the GN40 chipset.
Atom N280 is still single core with CPU speed increased to 1667MHz, the first-gen Atom N270’s CPU speed is at 1600MHz. The other notable spec bump is the 667MHz FSB bus speed compared with 533MHz FSB on the N270.
Looking at the N280 spec, the new Atom does not seem to differ much from its predecessor. This looks like CPU processor tweaks, with the GN45 chipset aims at fending off the assault of NVidia ION. NVidia ION platform is a recent offering which combine NVidia’s GeForce 9400 with Intel’s Atom that transform netbook to be 1080p HD video capable.
There is rumor that Apple is looking at Atom processor for some of its future products such as AppleTV or even Mac Mini. We are guessing Apple will have Atom based products when the dual-core Atom 330 processor is released sometimes towards Q3/Q4 of this year. We will never know, Apple might surprise us with a MacBook targeting the netbook market. How about a Mac Touch netbook with touch panel LCD?