Intel has officially started shipping its next-generation low-power Atom processor for netbooks. Part of the Cedar Trail platform, which already saw two chips released in September for low-powered desktop solutions, the new Atom N2600 and N2800 processors are based on Intel's 32nm Cedarview architecture and will replace the existing N455 and N475 Pine Trail models on small and cheap laptops.

This third generation of Intel Atom processors reportedly offers double the graphics performance of its predecessor thanks to a new PowerVR SGX 545 engine sourced from Imagination Technologies. There's only mention of DirectX 9 support on the press presentation for the new chips, which seems to validate rumors that they failed Microsoft's certification for DirectX 10.1.

They do offer a dedicated media engine for hardware-accelerated decoding of motion video, including support for 1080p H.264, in addition to support for Intel Wireless Display technology -- though the latter will be available depending on the system and price point according to AnandTech.

The move to a 32nm process allows for reduced power consumption in spite of the more powerful GPU. The N2600 is clocked at 1.6GHz with a TDP of just 3.5 watts, while the N2800 is clocked at 1.86GHz and it has a TDP of 6.5W. Both are dual-core, four-thread parts and are meant to be paired with the company's pre-existing NM10 chipset. Intel claims netbooks based on the new chips will feature up to 10 hours of battery life.

Intel is expecting the vast majority of Cedar Trail netbooks to be sold in the $199 - $229 price point, while models featuring Intel's WiDi and potentially fanless designs could arrive later in 2012 for around $399.