A leaked Intel slide seems to clear up some of the netbook chipset confusion from over the past month or so, by setting out a number of scenarios where the newer N280 1.66GHz Atom processor is not necessarily paired with the GN40 chipset. According to the slide, Intel are offering OEMs the choice of either the N280 processor with the existing 945GSE graphics chipset – which they describe as suitable for a “mainstream netbook”, and has a TDP of 8W – or the N280 with the GN40. Intel class that latter pairing as suitable for an “enhanced media netbook”, but it brings with it a significant power-requirement jump to 16.5W TDP.
Full-sized slide after the cut
The discrepancy has already led to confusion in the recent ASUS Eee PC 1000HE reports, which incorrectly assumed that both the N280 and GD40 were on-board. In actual fact, only the new processor was present, and ASUS have confirmed that the 1000HE that ships to customers will still use 945GSE graphics. According to Intel, the N280 is an “off-roadmap” product for manufacturers wishing to differentiate their netbooks and offer “slight performance enhancement over N270”; meanwhile the N280/GN40 setup is again “off-roadmap” but for those wanting HD playback.
Since 720p playback is possible with the 945GSE chipset, that presumably means that the GN40 is intended to deliver 1080p. According to some suggestions, the GN40 is in fact a re-badge of the existing Intel GL40 (itself a version of the GM45) and has had certain features disabled to differentiate it in this new market segment; it’s here being kept for its VC-1 and H.264 1080p decoding. Meanwhile back on the netbook roadmap, Intel are planning the Pine Trail-M – which includes the new Pineview CPU and Tigerpoint chipset, with a combined TDP of just 7W – which is expected to arrive in Q4 2009.