INTEL HAS STARTED TO SHIP THE NEW ATOM N280 which was originally due to make its way into the world much later this year.
It's not clear exactly which OEMs have received major shipments, but Intel spokeschip Bill Calder confirmed to Cnet that at least one major laptop builder had the kit in its hands. "Asus is already taking pre-orders for the 1000HE with the N280," he said.
On the processing front, the still single core N280 doesn't have to much to crow about when standing side-by-side with its older sibling, the much heralded and game-changing N270. Clock frequency gets a feeble bump from 1.6 GHz to 1.66Ghz, which hardly seems worth the trouble.
What will make a major difference is what's lurking in the accompanying chipset. For the first time ever in an Intel netbook, integrated GN40 graphics (aided and abetted by a healthy boost in the frontside bus from 533 to 667MHz) will offer up to 720p Hi Def video playback, which could turn your average emailing and web-browsing thigh warmer into a miniature multi media marvel.
Intel also confirmed that, while the rollout of the N280 wouldn't be anything like as huge as the original Atom's grounbreaking birth, the new chips would be appearing in a number of systems other than the $399 100HE (currently on pre-order from Amazon).
Intel declined to reveal the cost of the hardware to OEMs. µ