INTEL’S ATOM PROCESSORS are slow to evolve, as Pineview didn’t bring with it much in terms of new features of performance enhancements, but there’s hope on the horizon. Well, that is, if you have time to wait, as all the good stuff is set to happen sometime in the second half of 2011 when Intel is set to launch the Cedar Trail Atom core.
Where we’re unlikely to see any changes is with the NM10 chipset, although some minor changes might be made, Intel doesn’t intend to add any more PCI Express lanes or SATA ports. It’s possible that we might see support for some additional USB 2.0 ports, but that’s it. This also means that discrete graphics options will remain very limited, but with the changes that will be implemented, this is unlikely to be of too much interest to anyone except Nvidia.
Cedar Trail is destined to get an upgraded IGP which will not only add DirectX 10.1 support, but it will also have HD video decoding support. We don’t have any additional details about the 3D features, but this isn’t exactly one of the reasons why most people get an Atom system in the first place, so it’s all a little bit moot. The good news is that we should finally see support for 1080p video decoding in hardware. Add to this support for HDMI output at 1920×1080 and Intel has fixed one of the major bug-a-bears most people have with its Atom processors.
This confirms rumours that have been floating around on the web for a while, although without any kind of verification from other sources. One question which begs to be asked is what Broadcom will think of this, as the company is peddling its HD decoder cards for the Pineview platform for as much as $15 a pop to nettop and netbook manufacturers. Cedar Trail won’t need this and it looks like the development of an HD decoder solution is going to be a big loss maker for Broadcom in the end.
It’s also suggesting that Intel’s Atom processor is growing up and becoming more than it ever was. In fact, it looks like Atom is getting ready to replace Intel’s failed CULV platform as the specifications of Cedar Trail don’t appear to be that far off something like the Celeron SU2300. However, it seems like Intel is going to be a little bit too late to the party, as AMD might very well end up dominating this market space with its Ontario APU if it manages to get things right. That is at least the case unless Intel moves Cedar Trail forward, something that could still happen.S|A
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