Intel to boost flagging Atom with dual-core push

Intel will attempt to breathe new life into its flagging Atom processor range with the release of new dual-core models.

Intel to boost flagging Atom with dual-core push

The announcement comes as Intel posted bumper profits of $2.4 billion, an increase of 288% on the same period last year, and a more modest 7% increase on the traditionally busy Christmas quarter.

However, it wasn’t all good news in Intel’s financials. The company admitted that earnings from its Atom range of processors – which power devices ranging from smartphones to netbooks – were down by 19% on the previous quarter.

In a bid to address Atom’s faltering performance, Intel CEO Paul Otellini announced that new dual-core Atom parts will be arriving in the second quarter.

Intel has released dual-core Atom processors before, but they have been aimed primarily at nettop devices rather than portables. Consequently, battery life has tended to suffer when the chips have been utilised by netbook manufacturers.

The new dual-core Atoms are expected to be much more power efficient, and may provide the processing power boost needed to reignite innovation in the maturing netbook market.

Intel is also widely expected to announce support for DDR3 memory with the Atom processors, potentially providing another performance lift.

Impressive earnings

While Atom may be struggling to maintain momentum, the rest of Intel’s business seems in rude health.

Otellini claimed demand for high-end processors was strong and that corporate demand was beginning to return. The move to the 32-nanometer process was described as the “fastest technology ramp ever” for Intel, and the company plans to move four more plants to 32nm by the end of the year.

“The investments we’re making in leading edge technology are delivering the most compelling product line-up in our history,” said Otellini. “These leadership products combined with growing worldwide demand and continued outstanding execution resulted in Intel’s best first quarter ever. Looking forward, we’re optimistic about our business as Intel products are designed into a variety of new and exciting segments.”

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