If the netbook was a shooting star, the nettop was an asteroid that never quite entered our atmosphere. Instead it flew silently by, noted by NASA, written about in a handful of articles, and now forgotten.
That doesn’t mean it has ceased to exist, however. It’s still out there, floating in space - and it occasionally swings back around for an encore. So we have the Lenovo IdeaCentre Q180.
Of course, simply advertising a small computer as - well, a small computer - isn’t particularly sexy. The Q180 is instead being sold not just as general-purpose laptop but also as a media center (with optional Blu-Ray, not found on our review unit). There’s no doubting the demand for this, but so far, attempts to make PC-based media center computers have not done well - even Boxee, with its custom Linux-based operating system, was fussy. Can the Q180 succeed where others have stumbled? Let’s start with the specs.
It’s been awhile since we tested anything Atom. Since our last look at this line of processors, Intel has updated to the code-name Cedertrail processors, allowing for higher clock speeds. The 2.13 GHz dual-core Atom D2700 looks quite robust in print. But this still the same old architecture, so per-clock performance doesn’t come close to Intel’s Pentium and Core processors.
Also included in AMD’s Radeon HD 6450A, a version of the HD 6450 built for small systems that don’t have room for a typical PCIe graphics card. This makes up for the fact that all Atom processors are still using hopelessly outdated Intel Media Accelerator graphics, which is entirely unsuitable for HD video.
Introduction, Low-Power Computing Was Never Enjoyable
It was nearly five years ago that ASUS announced the first Eee PC model at Computex. That October the first production version of what would to be called a netbook, the ASUS Eee PC 4G, was released. The press latched on to the little Eee PC, making it the new darling of the computer industry. It was small, it was inexpensive, and it was unlike anything on the market.
Even so, the original Eee PC was a bit of a dead end. It used an Intel Celeron processor that was not suited for the application. It consumed too much power and took up a significant portion of the netbook’s production cost. If Intel’s Celeron had remained the only option for netbooks they probably would not have made the leap from press darling to mainstream consumer device.
It turned out that Intel (perhaps unintentionally) had the solution – Atom. Originally built with hopes that it might power “mobile Internet devices” it proved to be the netbook’s savior. It allowed vendors to squeeze out cheap netbooks with Windows and a proper hard drive.
At the time, Atom and the netbook seemed promising. Sales were great – consumers loved the cute, pint-sized, affordable computers. In 2009 netbook sales jumped by over 160% quarter-over-quarter while laptops staggered along with single-digit growth. The buzz quickly jumped to other products, spawning nettops, media centers and low-power all-in-one-PCs. There seemed to be nothing an Atom powered computer could not do.
Fast forward. Earlier this year, PC World ran an article asking if netbooks are dead. U.S. sales peaked in the first quarter of 2010 and have been nose-diving since then, and while some interest remains in the other markets, only central Europe and Latin America have held steady. It appears the star that burned brightest has indeed burned the quickest.
Subject: Editorial | April 23, 2012 - 05:12 PM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: trinity, Q1, Ivy Bridge, Intel, earnings, atom, arm, amd, 2012
Guess what? Intel made money. A lot of money. This is not surprising. The results were not record breaking, but they did beat expectations. Intel had a gross revenue of $12.9 billion for the quarter, with a net income of $2.7 billion. Gross margins decreased (slightly) to 64%, but the reasons for this are pretty logical as we discover down below. Compared to Q4 2011, results are still significantly down, but this is again expected due to seasonal downturns. In Q4 they had $13.9 billion in gross revenue and $3.4 billion in net income with a gross margin of 64.5%.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | April 19, 2012 - 11:50 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: atom, Medfield
The new Atom processor, named Medfield, has appeared in a market far, far away. The chip powering Lava's Xolo X900 runs at 1.6GHz and supports hyperthreading, the graphics core is clocked at 400MHz which Intel believes should be enough to allow it to output 1080p video via its HDMI plug. The power efficiency of the new architecture has yet to be tested but the claim by the manufacturer is eight hours of talk time and five hours of 3G web browsing. There are no available benchmarks yet but you can get an idea of the overall capabilities of this phone at The Inquirer.
"Intel and Indian handset maker Lava announced their intention to ship an Atom smartphone at Mobile World Congress in January. However Lenovo's K800 received all the attention, so Lava's Xolo X900 slipped under the radar to become the first shipping smartphone to feature Intel's Medfield Atom processor."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel to launch next-generation Xeon processor by the end of 2Q12 @ DigiTimes
- 5th Ave Frogger Uses Real Cars, Spares Frogs @ MAKE:Blog
- Powerline Network Adapter Shootout @ Legit Reviews
- Noctua Joint Contest @ NikKTech
Subject: General Tech | April 12, 2012 - 12:32 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: microserver, Centerton, seamicro, atom, low power
Microservers are the newest old idea to hit the PR flacks, anyone who remembers the original blade servers already has a good idea what a microserver is. Intel has once again tried to take ownership of a form factor, in this case defining what they feel the market should consider a microserver. In some ways, the single socket design seems to run counter to current low power servers, which tend towards large arrays of low powered APUs but at the same time when you no longer have to worry about the interconnects between those APUs you can drop the price significantly.
AMD has had several forays into this market and while Intel has never put much effort into this segment vendors like Dell and HP have been creating microservers using an Intel processor for some time. This heralds a change in Intel's strategy when taking on ARM and AMD in the server room, with the 6W Atom Centerton chip they announced at IDF. The Inquirer was also told of 10W and 15W parts which would be more powerful although they could also require a bit more space than what the 6W part could survive in. It seems that those looking for inexpensive servers which require very little infrastructure will have a lot of choices to spend their money on by the end of this year.
"CHIPMAKER Intel dropped an Atom bomb on the second day of IDF in Beijing, announcing its 'Centerton' microserver chip that will draw just a miserly 6W of thermal design power (TDP).
It defines a microserver as a computer with one socket, error correction, 64-bit processing, and minimal memory and I/O. The Atom Centerton platform will have two cores, Hyperthreading and support for ECC DDR3 as well as VT-x virtualisation technology. Intel said the Atom Centerton chip will be available in the second half of this year."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel introduces 910 Series PCIe SSD @ The Tech Report
- Intel's SSD 910: Finally a PCIe SSD from Intel @ AnandTech
- Intel expected to bring forward the launch of Ivy Bridge @ DigiTimes
- Malware-infected flash cards shipped out with HP switches @ The Register
- US sues Apple and book publishers for ebook price fixing @ The Inquirer
- WD pushes out super-slim shock-resistant Ultrabook drive @ The Register
- Samsung WB150F Review @ TechReviewSource
- Intel predicts 15 billion connected devices by 2015 @ Kitguru
- Ninjalane Podcast - Server Update Choosing a Video Card HWBot Team Update
- Microsoft Visual Studio 11 Preview @ Techgage
Subject: General Tech | March 22, 2012 - 01:44 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: valleyview, shark bay, PowerVR, Ivy Bridge, haswell GT3, haswell, atom
Phoronix has been investigating the open source driver code which was recently released, designed to power Intel's Haswell chips. The news is not as good as some had hoped; there were rumours that a Gen8 Haswell GT3 IGP would appear in Haswell but according to the hardware IDs that were found in the code that is not going to be true. Instead you are looking at refined Gen7 Haswell GT1 and GT2 IGPs and so will be an improvement over Ivy Bridge but not a completely new chip. Check out the rest of the secrets revealed by the code here.
"While Intel's Ivy Bridge launch is imminent, and I'm still digging through information concerning today's Intel Valleyview code drop that brings Ivy Bridge graphics to their next-generation Atom as they do away with PowerVR graphics for their SoCs, more graphics driver code to enable Haswell support has landed this evening."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- What's New in Linux 3.3? @ Linux.com
- Japan's once-proud semis learn size DOES matter @ The Register
- Globalfoundries ships 250,000 32nm wafers @ The Inquirer
- First-tier motherboard makers drop 7 series motherboard prices @ DigiTimes
- Intel Valley View: Atom SoC With Ivy Bridge Graphics @ Phoronix
- Weekly Giveaway #24: Thermaltake Chaser MK-1 and Saphira Mouse @ eTeknix
Subject: General Tech | February 9, 2012 - 12:07 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: arm, Intel, amd, atom, low power, cortex, Medfield, hondo
To revive an old buzzword some of you may have forgotten, ubiquitous computing is the current holy grail of the computing industry. If AMD, Intel, ARM and to a lesser extent NVIDIA, can get the market to prefer one of their low power processors over the competitions there is a lot of money to be made in the mobile market. The way that they are approaching the market is very different however. In Intel's case they pride themselves on the general computation power of their upcoming Medfield processor though that comes at the cost of power consumption and less graphics capabilities. AMD. like Intel, are trying to reduce the power consumption of their chips and though they lag behind in general CPU performance the graphics capabilities are generally considered superior.
Then there is ARM, which is striving to overcome its reputation of providing chips low in power, both electrically and computationally. Their latest Cortex processors are certainly display a vast improvement in performance compared to previous generations. The power consumption may have increased but not to the levels of consumption of the Intel and AMD chips. Intel and AMD need to continue lowering their power consumption without sacrificing power while ARM needs to increase performance without impacting the power consumption before anyone can be considered a clear winner. There is another consideration which DigiTimes points out; right now ARM is winning the price war which could be every bit as important as power consumption or computational power.
"While Intel and AMD have been making efforts to develop low power processors for use in smartphones and tablet PCs, they cannot compete with solutions from ARM in terms of price, according to notebook makers."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Android's Chrome finish comes too late for Flash coating @ The Register
- Transactional Synchronization in Haswell @ Intel
- Google touts website prefetching with Chrome 17 @ The Inquirer
- AMD announces FirePro V3900 for entry-level professional graphics @ DigiTimes
- Windows 8 confirmed for February 29th (Beta Queue) @ Kitguru
- Ninjalane Podcast - Basic Casemodding Listener Mailbag Interview with a Top Overclocker
- Samsung NX 200 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Weekly Giveaway #21: Antec LanBoy Air and High Current Pro 750W Power Supply @ eTeknix
Subject: Mobile | January 26, 2012 - 03:47 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: tablet, ssd, oaktrail, mobile, Kupa X11, atom Z670, atom
You might not expect to see a tablet being examined at the SSD Review, except for the Kupa X11 which contains a 64 or 128GB mSSD drive. As the Atom and Oaktrail pairing are perhaps not the fastest mobile chips on the block, the initial testing tried to determine if that chipset would prove to be a bottleneck. They tested the Kingspec 128GB SSD which was included in the tablet as well as a Renice X3 120GB ‘SandForce Driven’ SSD and a Kingston mS100 SSD. The Kingspec was the slowest choice of the three and even though the other two did perform more impressively Oaktrail did indeed prove to limit the performance of the drives. On the other hand, it is still faster than a HDD and the SSD helps to extend the life of this 1366 x 768 10.1″ tablet to around 10 hours. Also worth noting is that this tablet runs Xin7 Professional, not a trimmed down OS, and will fully support Win8.
"Just prior to CES we had received an e-mail from a reader who had spoken of a company called Kupa, a tablet manufacturer who, as the reader had stated, “wasn’t afraid to experiment outside the box”. it took us all of two seconds to get to the Kupa Website and discover the Kupa X11, a tablet PC with all the power of a full size computer to include a Intel Atom Z670 1.5Ghz Oaktrail platform, 2GB RAM and your choice of 64 or 128GB SSD. Needless to say, we were impressed."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- Acer Aspire TimelineX 5830TG-6614 Review @ TechReviewSource
- HP Envy 15 (Early 2012) Review @ TechReviewSource
- Capsule Review: GeChic's On-Lap 1301 Laptop Monitor @ AnandTech
- The Battle of The Netbooks: Intel vs AMD @ eTeknix
- Mobile CPU Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- GE Chic 13 inch On-Lap Monitor Review @ TechwareLabs
- Thermaltake Tt eSport Battle Dragon LAN Bag Review @ eTeknix
- Motorola Razr Android Smartphone Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Samsung Galaxy Nexus & Ice Cream Sandwich @ AnandTech
- HTC Explorer Android Smartphone Review @ HardwareHeaven
- How to transfer and play .AVI movies on your iPhone @ Funky Kit
Subject: Processors | December 28, 2011 - 07:15 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: pine trail, netbook, Intel, cedar trail, atom, 32nm
Intel has been pumping out quite a few new processors lately, with new Sandy Bridge-E CPUs, a new Sandy Bridge i7 2700K processor coming out, and now a new line of Atom CPUs sneaking in the news right before the new year! Not to mention, they are also working on Ivy Bridge.
The new Atom CPUs are of the Cedar Trail variety and succeed the older Pine Trail-M Atom processors. Currently, there are three Cedar Trail chips that will be available as soon as January in OEM systems including the N2600, N2800, and D2700 CPUs. Further, the new chips are 32nm and have a 22x22mm package size. These little chips are destined to power netbooks, tablets, embedded devices (think medical devices, ruggedized tablets, machinery). Yes, Intel still believes in netbooks, and feels as though emerging markets will keep the market alive and growing as people want for cheap computers that are able to get them on the web. While the netbook is losing popularity in the US, Intel expects the South American, Eastern European, and African markets to see great interest in the netbook platform. Their netbook plans involve three price tiers with accompanying use cases including netbooks at $200 with minimal features and a price to match that enables people to access the web all the way to $400+ netbooks with lots of features that would fill out the market up to where the Ultrabook territory begins at around $900.
The new Cedar Trail processors improve upon the previous gen Atom chips by quite a bit, according to Intel. The graphics aspect in particular has been improved such that 1080p HD Youtube and HD Netflix streams are playable at at least 24 FPS. Something that early netbooks using Intel's integrated graphics will never be able to do. Intel further estimates a 50% lower TDP and a 28% processor performance increase over the Pine Trail chips. Further, the new Cedar Trail chips have more cache at 2 x 512 L2 cache(s), higher clockspeeds, lower TDP, higher C-State (C6 vs C4E)/lower power usage in sleep mode, a 200MHz higher clocked graphics card (400MHz vs 200 MHz), and increased memory speeds (DDR3 800 and 1066 vs DDR3-667). The fastest Nxx chip, the N2800 manages a .2GHz clock speed increase while also knocking off 2 watts from the TDP versus the previous top N570.
Needless to say, Cedar Trail is looking very good, on paper at least. The individual chip specifications are listed below.
|CPU Clock Speed||Graphics Clock Speed||TDP|
|N2600||1.60 GHz||400 MHz||3.5 W|
|N2800||1.86 GHz||640 MHz||6.5 W|
|D2700||2.10 GHz||640 MHz||10 W|
What are your thoughts on the new Cedar Trail chips, do you think they will provide enough "oomph" to make new netbooks desirable again? Some more information can be found here and straight from Intel here.
Subject: General Tech, Processors | December 28, 2011 - 02:33 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: intel atom, Intel, atom
Intel’s Atom processors were created as a tier below their Celeron product line. Netbooks, then running VIA Nano processors, have started to gain popularity since their introduction in late 2007. Intel’s Atom processors took the place of the VIA parts since that time. In 2009, Intel has stated that they have seen approximately twenty percent of their sales of notebook processors replaced with sales of their cheaper Atom processors. Intel still maintains the Atom processor line, but apparently with new goals in mind.
Up and ATOM!!!
According to Digitimes, the demand for Intel’s Atom processors has declined recently. Intel, in response, decided to market that tier of parts to embedded and server customers for use in network-attached storage devices and very low-end servers. Intel is also rumored to have plans to shrink the process size of Atom in 2013 to 22nm and again shrink process size to 14nm in 2014. The upcoming 32nm Atom processor is expected by the second quarter of 2012.