Intel’s long awaited mobile dual-core Atom CPU, N550, finally releases in netbooks today. Some of the designs based on the N550 include Acer, ASUS, Fujitsu, Lenovo, LG, Samsung, MSI, and Toshiba netbooks. The N550 finally brings in DDR3 support, while retains “similar” battery life to the single core N450. However, Intel lists the supported frequency as only 667 MHz, even for DDR3, though previously the N550 was expected to support 1066 MHz. Perhaps it is a typographical error? The N550 clocks in at 1.5 GHz, only a 166 MHz downclock from the single-core N450. It also features double the L2 cache – 1MB (512KB per core). Previous information suggests a TDP of 8.5W, compared to 5.5W for the N450. However, evened over the entire platform, a 3W increase won’t affect battery life significantly.

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Intel’s long awaited mobile dual-core Atom CPU, N550, finally releases
in netbooks today. Some of the designs based on the N550 include Acer,
ASUS, Fujitsu, Lenovo, LG, Samsung, MSI, and Toshiba netbooks. The N550
finally brings in DDR3 support, while retains “similar” battery life to
the single core N450. However, Intel lists the supported frequency as
only 667 MHz, even for DDR3, though previously the N550 was expected to
support 1066 MHz. Perhaps it is a typographical error? The N550 clocks
in at 1.5 GHz, only a 166 MHz downclock from the single-core N450. It
also features double the L2 cache – 1MB (512KB per core). Previous
information suggests a TDP of 8.5W, compared to 5.5W for the N450.
However, evened over the entire platform, a 3W increase won’t affect
battery life significantly.

The N550 continues to support HyperThreading, feature 4 threads. Performance wise, an average improvement of a whopping 75% is expected over the extremely weak N450.

A dual-core CPU for netbooks has been much anticipated, and the Atom N550 had been scheduled for a Q3 release for a long time. It is finally here. Or is it? Out of the dozen or so design wins, no N550 based netbooks are available in e-tail, yet. Of course, the situation may well change over the coming days, if not hours, and we can expect widespread availability of N550 netbooks. The price premium over N450 based netbooks will be revealed once these netbooks appear on sale.

With AMD’s Ontario based netbooks releasing in Q1 2011, and threatening to brush Atom N450 aside, the N550’s timely release was vital. However, it still may not be enough. Early benchmarks suggest (possibly nettop version) Ontario may destroy the N550’s higher-clocked nettop cousin, D510, by as much as 90%. It is also expected to have a smaller die size, though power consumption has ignited plenty of speculation. Over and above, it will include an on-die DX11 GPU.

Whichever way, the N550 brings a dramatic improvement in Netbook performance, and AMD’s first Fusion product – Ontario – promises to take things up another notch. Finally, we can stop worrying about terribly weak single-core netbook CPUs.

Reference: Intel Press Release