Intel to allow 2GB RAM with future Atom N470 netbooks

By on October 27, 2009, 8:11 PM
If you've been in the market for a netbook at any given moment for the past year, you may have noticed how manufacturers are basically just putting different enclosures around the same hardware -- 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 processor, 160 or 250GB hard drives, and no more than 1GB of RAM. This is largely the result of restrictions set by Intel and Microsoft, and apparently with the arrival of Intel's Pine Trail platform early next year things won't be too different.

According to Fudzilla, netbooks based on the upcoming 1.66GHz Atom N450 processor, which will debut in January featuring an on-die graphics core and memory controller, will still be tied to the 1GB limit. These systems should also have display sizes ranging from 7" to 10.2", either a 120GB hard drive or up to 20GB of solid-state storage, and a four-cell battery -- but on the flip side should start selling for as low as $250.

Further down the road, around March 2010, the 1.83GHz Atom N470 will reportedly allow running 2GB of RAM and up to 32GB of solid-state storage. The higher limit should provide a decent jump in performance for netbooks, while still targeting the $299 to $349 price points.

These restrictions are aimed at making a clear distinction between netbooks and ultraportables, while protecting the profit margins from more lucrative CULV-based offerings.

User Comments: 23

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Didou Didou, Bowtie extraordinair!, said:

I'm already seeing Netbooks with Atom CPUs & ION chipset that have more than 1GB of memory.

gadzooks64 said:

The 11.6" Acer Netbook that I have can be configured with 2gb ram. The version I bought only came with 1gb but I upgraded it to 2gb. The performance difference was substantial. The deal I got made it cost effective to pay for the aftermarket upgrade. I call that a win/win.

fref said:

Nice to see they're loosening up the RAM limitation. Wasn't there a limit for the processor frequency too? I thought 1.6GHz was the maximum allowed for netbooks. With a 1.83GHz version coming soon, I guess they've loosened that up too.

These machines are getting more and more interesting. Just wish they could find so room in there for a DVD drive. Hahaha! I know, I won't be holding my breath for that...

Jos Jos said:

@gadzook64: Yeah most of them support up to 2GB of RAM, but you need to upgrade them manually since they tend to ship with 1GB or less.

@Didou: Indeed, the Ion-equipped Lenovo S12 just launched with 2GB of RAM at $600. Maybe there are a couple more examples like this. However, from what I understand the reason most manufacturers comply with netbook guidelines is not because they HAVE to but because if they don't they'll lose Intel's preferential Atom CPU pricing. So, yeah, there will be a few netbooks that come with 2GB right out of the box but you'll probably have to pay a bit extra for both the memory upgrade (obviously) and the full Atom price.

abautu said:

Now it's clear why i haven't seen any 2GB Atom netbooks.

lupinnktp said:

well, even as upgrading RAM for netbook is not a difficult task, it is not really something anyone could do, partly due to some netbook's non-modular builds (such as my AOA150). This loosening of limitation is a refreshing breath to the netbook market. perhaps this could somewhat prove Micheal Dell wrong. Netbook is the way to go in the world where mobility rules... the battery life is their best features, imho.

jet6130 said:

Good to hear about companies responding to customer wants. Should drive the cost of the "old" netbooks down, and give more power to the newer's all about choices

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Ever since the netbook craze started, companies like Intel and Microsoft have been trying to delineate a max spec for them, so there are no blurred lines between the cheap netbooks and their more expensive laptops. For Intel, it helps to force wedges into the marketplace, keeping a nice healthy niche for the Atom platform, and then their standard mobile platform. Looks like they have backpedaled a bit from the tight restrictions, bowing to consumer demand (a very smart move in this case).

thewoosterisroot thewoosterisroot said:

That would be nice. My little hp mini does fine with 1 gig, but it wouldn't hurt to add a little more ram in there.

mattfrompa mattfrompa said:

I think Intel should just lift the 1 GB limit completely. 1 GB may work fairly well, but the Atom processor needs all the help it can get from the rest of the system. I personally don't see netbooks aging well, and the RAM limit does nothing but push them further behind.

Timonius Timonius said:

I'm betting a nice light linux distro would run pretty sweet on these netbooks. Here's a chance for linux to shine and make these netbooks even cheaper (no OS costs factored in).

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

I would like to see a lot more Via Nano based netbooks.

freedomthinker said:

In my opinion this is good , this could really boost sales and productivity of netbooks . I was seriously waiting for this to happen and since the new OS Windows 7 is out this is good news !

NightAngel79 said:

For me to take netbooks seriously running 7 they have to lift ram limit. 1 gig may run xp pretty good but i think that 7 will require more ram to run smooth.

waterytowers said:

I don't think they are bowing to consumer demand, if they wanted to do that they would have done that a long time ago. Intel wants to keep their new netbook market, and milk it for everything its worth by slowly upgrading their systems by adding new features that were previously only available for full fledged laptops.

Microsoft wanted to be in the netbook market so it left WinXP, after all they were not selling any copies of vista except via the Microsoft tax for every computer sold. Vista would never be capable of running on a netbook and it was unanimous that Vista sucked. Now Vista2 has been released I think you will see the spec of netbooks raised so that Microsoft can run Win7, still not quite capable of running on a netbook, at least not the old lower spec netbooks.

Doesn't anyone think it is a bit dubious that Intel slightly raises the bar for netbooks shortly after the release of Win7?

By the way I am not complaining, it is about time that netbooks had a slightly bigger brother. I have wanted more pixels, more ram and a gigabit network port since netbooks first showed up. WVGA is too small for browsing the web, unless you only visit sites for mobile phones. and what is it about 10/100Mbit network ports still being put into any device that has a processor that can support gigabit speeds. The only answer can be that they have a really large stockpile of 10/100Mbit NICs in their warehouse. Maybe they could add 10 of these to a netbook and we could trunk them onto the network, then I would need a 10 port switch as well but maybe I could get gigabit speeds.

jrronimo said:

@waterytowers: I don't think it's dubious at all -- I've got Win7 running on a Dell Mini 9 and it runs great as-is. If netbooks had been around for Vista more, then it might be more dubious, heh.

I like netbooks a lot in terms of performance and cost, but I completely agree with the comment that they're all just the same hardware with different shells these days, and that's kind of annoying. I'm excited about Ion machines a bit and am getting kind of glad that I never jumped on the original EEE like I wanted to.

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

The screen resolution is what keeps me from getting a netbook. If you can put a 1920x1600 display in a 15" notebook surely they can put a 1440x920 in a 10".

Zeromus said:

No because, the pixel to inch ratio for a 1920 pixel screen on 15 inches is 128px/in where as on a 1440 is obviously higher at 144px/in. But i still agree that that doesn't mean such a moderate difference couldn't cripple the development process in creating high ratio screens.

Guest said:

My Asus n10j-a2 has an Atom 270 with 2GB ram and 320GB hdd. What a joke.

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

No because, the pixel to inch ratio for a 1920 pixel screen on 15 inches is 128px/in where as on a 1440 is obviously higher at 144px/in. But i still agree that that doesn't mean such a moderate difference couldn't cripple the development process in creating high ratio screens.

1.8" iPod Nano screens are 320x240 or something like that. Perhaps my direct analogy was poorly choosen, but the point was the screens could be a lot better than 1024x600 or 572.

thunder5632 said:

Wow, good to know ! Also waiting for the 2 G.B update

akhpp835 said:

What is the max memory supported by the current N270? Is there a limitation on the max SSD hard drive size as well?

JieMan JieMan said:

The gray area of what makes a laptop and a nettop is getting bigger.

Cant wait as these newer nettops might drop costs or eventually take the place of low end notebooks.

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