Netbook CPUs: ARM, AMD (Conesus/Yukon), Dual-Core Atom

AMD There were several major CPU-related announcements for netbooks released over the past few days, along with some more information about dual-core Atoms and how they might potentially fare in netbooks.

ARM is going to use the ARMv7 architecture to make ARM Cortex-A8 and A9-based netbooks and MIDS. They are going to work with Canonical on an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution specifically for these systems. They are known for being able to handle some forms of high-definition video as well as long battery life in existing PDAs / smart phones. LAPTOP Magazine reports that they are interested in 8.9″ and 10.2″ netbooks. We’ll see more about this towards April of 2009 as the ARM Ubuntu distribution is released, as well as more information. (Press Release via LAPTOP Magazine

Next up, PC Pro has benchmarked the dual-core Atom 330, and even though it was on a desktop form factor, they made comparisons to single-core Atoms on netbooks (since some of the involved factors, including the chipset, were identical). In their tests, the dual-core Atoms shined when it came to software suited to multiple cores and/or hyper-threading, such as Photoshop and CorelDraw, as well as multimedia encoding. In their multi-tasking tests, it creeped a little closer to performance on part with desktop Pentium Ds, which is a good sign. The major problem is that it doubles the amount of power required for the CPU, which could impact battery life significantly. Perhaps when Intel launches a new netbook-oriented chipset sometime next year, that impact will not be felt if the chipset is able to drop its power consumption.

Yesterday during AMD’s 2008 Financial Analyst Day, AMD announced that they have an architecture suitable for netbooks. It’s due to be available sometime in the first half of 2009. The CPU is called “Consesus” and will be dual-core with 1MB of L2 Cache. The platform itself will be called “Yukon”. There is discussion about whether or not Consesus will be based on AMD’s Geode line. They made it very clear that they weren’t targeting low-end netbooks, that they will cede that market to Intel and it’s Atom CPU. Instead, they are choosing to “deliver a full-fledged PC experience” and AMD “won’t be going to the bottom where Atom is going, it won’t be to the lowest [thermal design power] where Atom is going.” (ExtremeTech)