I’ve been fascinated by this new trend in computing. Every hardware manufacturer seems to be introducing low power components aimed at simple ‘internet PCs’. Not everyone needs their PC to be able to run Crysis at 60 fps. I think it’s great that manufacturers are recognizing this, but it really is a shame that most of these products don’t quite fit together just yet.
Take the Intel Atom CPU. The single core version uses only a maximum of 2.5 watts of electricity. A mid range desktop CPU uses fifteen times that, if not thirty. The Atom N270 in my netbook really is fast enough for surfing the web and office work. But the Atom is usually bundled with an Intel chipset that is far less efficient. As a result, the combo has a hard time when compared against a Core2 Duo chip on an Intel G31 chipset based motherboard. The latter is far more powerful and uses only slightly more energy (at least when idle).
Intel apparently has a chipset planned (codenamed ‘Poulsbo’) that will use less power, but at a cost. It will not support graphics resolutions over ‘HD ready’ and use PATA over the newer SATA standard. Hmmm, I think I’ll pass.