There has been some recent confusion in regards to the new Intel Atom N280 and a new Intel GN40 chipset, especially with the upcoming 10″ Asus Eee PC 1000HE.
The Eee PC 1000HE is the first (potentially) netbook/ultraportable to be shipping with the N280, at least that’s been announced (and it’s available for pre-order). Later on this quarter or in the second quarter of 2009, the 10-inch Acer Aspire One (D15) will be shipping with the N280 as an option.
Both of those laptops, at least for now, will be shipping with the standard Intel 945GSE chipset that has been shipping in these devices for the past year and a half, and will not shipping with the GN40 chipset. It’s possible that both companies could adopt the GN40, but chances are they would differentiate it with new model numbers (especially Asustek).
The GN40 chipset certainly has a lot going for it – it can output HD-quality video (720p) using a hardware-based decoder. The fact that Asustek was claiming 8+ hours for their 1000HE also confused things, since some believed the GN40 was responsible (the GN40 in fact uses more power than the existing 945 chipset). The N280 is not as impressive – it has a slight speed increase over the current 1.6GHz N270, as well as a slightly faster front-side bus (FSB), but LAPTOP Magazine found little difference in their testing when comparing it to the N270.
Intel has a solution for ultraportables using the GN40 that it calls “Enhanced Media Netbook“, which allows for Atom-based devices to handle 720p HD video playback. HKEPC has a slide with a roadmap showing this scenario ( and “off-roadmap solution”). Fudzilla also had a reader contact them and claim that the GN40 was based on the GL40 chipset (which is based on the GM45 chipset). It does come at a cost – it uses twice as much power as the Atom paired with the existed 945 chipset (16.5W TDP versus 8W TDP).
As PC World mentions, the N280 is being shipped to manufacturers. At some point in the future, we’ll have the Intel Pine Trail-M/Tigerpoint platform (or Pine Trail-D on the nettop side), which allows for just 7W TDP and which should be available later this year. It’ll have both single and dual-core CPU options, and will be smaller, which could allow more manufacturers to go either fanless, or at the very least, reduce the cooling footprint.