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Blurring Lines — Dual Core Atom To Lift Netbooks

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the there's-a-fusion-joke-in-there-somewhere dept.

Intel 204

CWmike writes "'The next innovation coming to Atom is on dual-core,' Intel CEO Paul Otellini said recently of the company's low-end chips, which delivered the modern netbook but also found their way into embedded devices, and in the future, into mobile devices like smartphones. His statement comes after close to two years of accelerated growth, and with the initial euphoria around netbooks now subsiding. HP has already advertised a new netbook, the Hewlett-Packard Mini 210, running Intel's upcoming N455 chip, one of the Atom-series processors, on Amazon.de. The N455 supports DDR3 memory, an upgrade over the DDR2 memory in most netbooks today. The DDR3-capable processors should allow data to be exchanged faster between the memory and CPU, translating to better overall netbook performance. Prices of laptops have been falling and the days of netbooks being a novelty have disappeared, said Jay Chou, research analyst at IDC. Laptops are bridging the pricing gap with netbooks, while offering better performance. 'You're getting something really attractive in the $600 range for better-performing notebooks,' Chou said. 'The original intended message of letting people expect netbooks to behave differently or less effectively is not really ringing.'"

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Replacments (3, Insightful)

erick99 (743982) | more than 4 years ago | (#32057730)

I think we are looking at netbooks mostly occupying the place of notebooks and notebooks just about completely replacing desktops. I haven't bought a desktop since Feb 2004 but I have bought three notebooks since then (most recently a Dell Studio 17 this past September).

Re:Replacments (4, Interesting)

Mortiss (812218) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058000)

I would kind of doubt that. The ability to easily swap hardware in a full desktop rig will trump laptops any time. Moreover, desktops usually offer more powerful hardware options.

Re:Replacments (3, Interesting)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058012)

Although I agree, it's worth pointing out that in the past ten years laptops have gone from monolithic everything-on-board devices to reasonably pluggable, at least at the larger end. My GIGANTIC desktop replacement from Sager has a desktop motherboard and graphics card (and a battery life of about 10 minutes new).

My older laptop from Dell I upgraded the gfx card from one laptop form factor card to another. Also laptop ram is pretty interchangeable, except for that nasty shit Apple pulls with the differing electronegativity.

Re:Replacments (2, Informative)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058236)

Are you running an all Dell shop and only swapping RAM between them? I swear, people will take a crapshot at Apple without looking at what they are currently running. It was a lot cheaper for me buying ram for my B&W G3 back in the day than a Dell Dimension.

Re:Replacments (3, Interesting)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058280)

Not fitting in the slot or BSDing on boot is kinda mean but it does no permanent damage. The Apple thing not only damages your property but is intended to gradually become less reliable to mislead the customer into thinking that non-Apple RAM is low quality.

I just got generic ram and it worked fine, by the way. Maybe I got lucky or something, I do think it was kingston. Whatever, I'm a pretty loyal Sager customer now for the big cindreblock desktop replacements and I'll stick to Lenovo Thinkpads for now for the smaller ones, though that may well change based on what I've been hearing about their newer models

I can't believe I'm defending Dell, it's pretty out of character, but this is one case where it makes sense.

Re:Replacments (5, Insightful)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058238)

The ability to easily swap hardware in a full desktop rig will trump laptops any time.

Yeah, for the enthusiast market. For the general population, swapping computer hardware is on the same level as tweaking the dishwasher for more hot-water spraying action.

Re:Replacments (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058486)

Yeah, for the enthusiast market. For the general population, swapping computer hardware is on the same level as tweaking the dishwasher for more hot-water spraying action.

I do that all of the time. What are you trying to say?

Re:Replacments (3, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058514)

The ability to easily swap hardware in a full desktop rig will trump laptops any time

Who cares? Seriously, what percentage of computer owners do you think ever upgrades their computer by any mechanism other than buying a new one?

Moreover, desktops usually offer more powerful hardware options

Again, who cares? My three-year-old laptop is still fast enough for everything I need it for (although it could do with more RAM). You do realise that laptop sales past desktop sales a couple of years ago? For most people, convenience is more important than speed. Computers got to the point where they were fast enough for a significant proportion of the market around 10 years ago.

Re:Replacments (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058984)

I would kind of doubt that. The ability to easily swap hardware in a full desktop rig will trump laptops any time.

Except for the vast, vast majority of people, this ability is utterly irrelevant because they never upgrade anything inside the box.

Re:Replacments (1)

earthforce_1 (454968) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058164)

I just built my new over clocked 980x desktop a few days ago. I need a big 30" screen and ultra-fast CPU. Most laptops feel underpowered. Netbooks feel very cramped for my fingers, I mainly use them just to check network drops.

Re:Replacments (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058176)

Well of course you haven't bought a desktop in a few years because there is no need to -buy- a desktop every time you want to upgrade it. Even for the non-geek changing RAM, installing a new HDD, adding in a new graphics card, replacing an old networking card, etc. are all very easy to do. With a laptop you have to wonder if it -really- is worth it. Most desktops allow adding in more RAM than is practical for average use, while most laptops are maxed-out when they come from the factory. If a screen breaks on a desktop you either drag out that $7 CRT you picked up a few years back at a garage sale or buy a ~$200 or less monitor, or, if you have a good graphics card, just use your HDTV. If your power supply dies on a laptop and the laptop is out of warranty, the laptop is dead. If your power supply dies on your desktop you just throw in a new one.

Upgrading a desktop majorly involves buying some parts and sticking it in the case. Upgrading a laptop majorly usually involves buying a new laptop.

Re:Replacments (5, Informative)

masdog (794316) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058728)

while most laptops are maxed-out when they come from the factory.

Since when? Most laptops come with one DIMM of the lowest density RAM they can put in the machine and are easily upgradeable. RAM is one of the only components that can easily be upgrades in almost all laptops except Macs and some Dell Latitude E-series machines since you only have to open a service door or remove the palm rest to upgrade RAM.

If a screen breaks on a desktop you either drag out that $7 CRT you picked up a few years back at a garage sale or buy a ~$200 or less monitor, or, if you have a good graphics card, just use your HDTV.

Every laptop has some form of display out (VGA, HDMI, or DisplayPort) that can be used to hook up a monitor, projector, or HDTV (especially one that isn't crippled to 1024x768). The machine is still usable at that point even if you lose portability. Almost every one also has USB and most have bluetooth so you can hook up external devices.

If your power supply dies on a laptop and the laptop is out of warranty, the laptop is dead. If your power supply dies on your desktop you just throw in a new one.

LOLWUT??? You realize that there are very few laptops with external power supplies. The AC/DC conversion usually happens in the AC adapter, and it can be replaced by a ~$100 vendor specific or $50 universal AC adapter.

Re:Replacments (2)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058288)

Intel doesn't want netbooks to replace laptops, which is why (until this announcement, I guess) Intel strongly discouraged putting dual core Atoms on netbooks. Two-core Atom chips, which Intel has had for some time in the 330, were originally limited to nettops unless your company wanted to lose any discounts ... er ... marketing funds.

Re:Replacments (3, Insightful)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 4 years ago | (#32059018)

I think we are looking at netbooks mostly occupying the place of notebooks and notebooks just about completely replacing desktops. I haven't bought a desktop since Feb 2004 but I have bought three notebooks since then (most recently a Dell Studio 17 this past September).

I agree with you mostly for the average consumer. However, users who need more power than a laptop offers (gaming is an obvious one, but software developers too) want the higher power you get with a desktop. In a laptop, you (generally) don't get:

- very high-end video cards (my new one in my desktop is almost the size of an EEE PC and requires a 500 watt PSU)
- high IO speeds (generally slower hard drives, lower clock-rate BUS speeds and higher RAM latency; everything is underclocked to conserve energy)
- mobile CPUs skimp on cache size, which is worse when combined with multi-core.
- better heat dissipation (they've gotten better, but I know of some recent laptops that overheated to the point of failure).

There will always be a need for some portion of the market having as much power at their finger tips (even if this group decreases in size over the years due to other innovations).

support AES (1)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 4 years ago | (#32057742)

Support hardware AES (with your AES-NI instruction set, or even copying VIA's Padlock), then they'll actually be usable in devices used where anyone cares a jot about security.

Re:support AES (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058418)

Sounds like a good market segmentation opportunity(which Intel loves these days).

Have an "enterprise edition" for desktop and mobile thinnish clients, that includes crypto acceleration and costs $100 more, and laser it off your otherwise identical consumer models...

Computers are a commodity (3, Interesting)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#32057780)

How much more performance do we need before we all say: "enough."? Computers years ago already passed the good-enough mark for normal usage. The only thing that still drives processors are transcoding and games really. Give it another year or two and I'm sure I won't even look at the spec for what processor is in a machine I buy: of course it will be fine. What do you think this will mean for new computer sales? Will people jump off the upgrade treadmill and simply wait until their current machine dies before purchasing a new one? The inflationary days of selling computing hardware may just be over: now we seem to be getting into a saturated sector. What will manufacturers do to replace those sales?

Re:Computers are a commodity (3, Interesting)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#32057902)

Well, when I watched 100 MB movies (sized for Zip disks, I guess) from DALnet in the mid 90's, the better quality stuff was actually pushing my old system. By the mid 00's, the quality of movies had risen to the point where I doubt they'd play at all on my old system. Now, with 19 GB BD quality flicks out there, my 3 year old AMD 64X2 4200+ is already dropping frames, even with a Radeon 4800 series.

I really don't expect this practically exponential increase to just magically level off in the next few years, especially with 3D features coming out these days.

Re:Computers are a commodity (2, Interesting)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#32057968)

I've never tried Blu-Ray media on my system. I have a 3Ghz Pentium D on my machine, that is about equivalent to a 1.8Ghz Core2Duo. I've thought about upgrading, I really have, but every time I think about it I realize that for my particular situation I would gain very little for the cash. OpenOffice would just spend a bajillion wasted CPU cycles instead of a million between my key presses ;)

Re:Computers are a commodity (1)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058136)

Blu-Ray media wouldn't work on that processor, probably even if you had hardware acceleration. Even my 2.4Ghz C2D hardware-accelerated by a 9600M runs into trouble on bluray rips. The bitrate itself is about 1.4Mbps, and that's before decoding.

Re:Computers are a commodity (1)

kevinmenzel (1403457) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058390)

It might... Blu-Ray rips play fine on my Pentium 4 840EE, and they played fine on my 3.2GHz 950D before it kicked the bucket when my cheap motherboard decided to quit on me. It'd be a struggle without FFDShow's DXVA codec, but Shark007's codec pack makes that easy to set up. I can also play real Blu-Ray movies perfectly nicely too... that's with a 9600GT though....

Re:Computers are a commodity (2, Informative)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058636)

What you need is the Klite Codec Pack, which you can get in just a couple of clicks at Ninite [ninite.com] . I have found their DXVA ffdshow enabled MPC Home Cenima to be the easiest way to get really good hardware acceleration for HD. I don't know how well a 9400m runs, but on my HD6450, which cost a whole $36 after rebate, HD purrs like a kitten and doesn't even work my AMD 925, nor the 7550 Athlon x2 I had before it.

So if you are watching BD Rips I would recommend Klite, and Ninite is the easiest way to get it. Also a great site when you set up a new machine as it has all the basics like Flash, Firefox, Silverlight, Chrome, etc.

Now as for TFA, aren't dual Atoms still crappy in order CPUs? I've had to work on a few Atom netbooks at my shop and the single cores really didn't impress, hell an old 1.3Ghz Celeron box I had felt more snappy than the Atom. If I wanted multimedia on a netbook I would probably go with one of those new AMD Neo based ones I got to play with the other day, as with an ULV Athlon plus a Radeon GPU it was really smooth and felt more like a little laptop than a netbook. They weren't bad priced either, as I've seen them for less than $400 online. I never got why Intel would push in order CPUs for netbooks. Embedded sure, but from what I saw of the XP netbooks I worked on they were just slugs, especially when paired with an Intel GPU.

Re:Computers are a commodity (2, Interesting)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058986)

The in order design is less problematic regarding power consumption, they clearly wanted to go the ARM route (funny thing is that the latest ARMs went the out of order route). But beating ARM at their own game is close to impossible with the crappy intel instruction set.
So they ended up with an ARM wannabee and using their marketforce to push it into the PC market with miserable results.
Btw. you can run blu ray on ATOMs even with 10% processor usage, you just have to bundle it with an NVidia ION1 chipset and have the proper drivers, so go figure where you really should spend your money instead of throwing it into Intels throat.

Codec packs (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32059180)

Should be a capital offence.

A couple of clicks is far too many. You would probably like some software that clicks the mouse for you. Or perhaps a new, improved version of whatever the fuck "Ninite" is that installs everything via drive by downloads for you.

In summary, you are such a fucking moron that you should just fuck off and shut up and die. As painfully as possible.

Re:Computers are a commodity (3, Informative)

0123456 (636235) | more than 4 years ago | (#32057986)

Will people jump off the upgrade treadmill and simply wait until their current machine dies before purchasing a new one?

I believe you'll find that 95% of people do that already. I'm still trying to decide how much longer I can live with my 2003-era Windows PC (with 2005 graphics card) before I have to give in and buy another one for gaming, and my laptop is literally dying which is the only reason why I'll replace it in the next year or so.

The difference that cheaper PCs has made to me is that I buy more of them for specific uses, rather than trying to do everything on one expensive system. Netbooks are a good example of that as people who wouldn't have paid $1000 for a laptop a few years back will pay $300 for a netbook.

Re:Computers are a commodity (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058572)

I suspect that, for Joe User, the trend you mention for yourself will be substantially accelerated by the increase in "cloud" offerings(webmail, google docs and competitors, etc.) and trivial to use internet backup and sync services.

While, for geeks, or for users within a properly administered institutional environment, data and configuration portability has been trivial for a long time now, that hasn't been the case at home. This provides a powerful incentive in favor of having "a computer", and just dealing with a compromise if you have different sets of needs in different areas; because, at least, all your data and configurations will be there when you need them.

If, through a combination of data moving off the local machine, and through sync services, data portability can become easy, the use of application-specific machines can reasonably be expected to become more attractive.

Re:Computers are a commodity (0)

Bugamn (1769722) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058036)

In other words: 640K ought to be enough for anybody.

Re:Computers are a commodity (1)

heson (915298) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058100)

When it calls me Dave.

Re:Computers are a commodity (3, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058130)

Computers years ago already passed the good-enough mark for normal usage. The only thing that still drives processors are transcoding and games really.

Don't underestimate the ability of the average computer user to take a nice collection of hardware and crap it up with endless shiny programs. Factor in OS bloat and I think we'll be upgrading for a while yet.

Re:Computers are a commodity (2, Insightful)

forkazoo (138186) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058160)

How much more performance do we need before we all say: "enough."?

Never. For many people, it happened years ago. My smartphone is plenty fast for checking email, and it has all sorts of un-necessary eye-candy transition effects in the UI. Dialog boxes blur out the background, etc. For something meant to be purely functional, half the performance of my phone would be perfectly adequate for many tasks. Even the lowest end current mainstream Atom is a much faster processor than what's in my phone. So for my dad running apps he is used to, enough already is "enough." Yay, that probably happened over a decade ago.

But, there will always be some of us for whom fast is never fast enough. We'll always find uses for more power. Look at how brilliantly Adobe manages to make even the fastest systems seem wildly inadequate for light web browsing (thanks to flash) and document viewing (their PDF reader). There will always be applications that make us want faster computers. Some of just poor implementations, like flash. Some are inherently hard problems, like detailed fluid simulation. Some are just for the entertainment value, like the latest game engine.

For me, film res compositing, and 3D rendering are the applications that primarily drive my interest in high performance systems. In my end of the world, we can always throw more performance at the problem. More RAM, more/faster storage, more CPU. We'll take whatever we can get. We always will.

Re:Computers are a commodity (1)

thoughtsatthemoment (1687848) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058358)

Another factor is that a low power dual core version will likely become mainstream on netbooks. Dual core can free one core is focus on UI to at least give an impression of faster response. I remember when dual core became mainstream on the desktop it had a much bigger impact on performance than incremental CPU frequency gain.

I believe this move from Intel is probably to counter iPad, which seems to encroach on netbook market. PC makes have had plenty of time to improve netbooks but they fear of an scenario of netbooks replacing laptops, which I believe, is just the inevitable. Maybe not by netbooks, but something smaller and lighter.

Re:Computers are a commodity (4, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058580)

1 core for you, 1 core for Norton...

Re:Computers are a commodity (1)

thoughtsatthemoment (1687848) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058700)

I know you are joking, but that's a different problem when one application makes excessive use of the hard drive.

Re:Computers are a commodity (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058966)

Hehe I do most of my work with java nowadays and the funny thing is, machines have been fast enough for me the last 8 years, things which really drive my need for faster hardware is not the java IDEs and app servers, but things again like video encoding and games, but those tasks can be offloaded with better results to the GPU, so I rather update my GPU than to ugrade my computer nowadays.

Re:Computers are a commodity (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058230)

The only thing that still drives processors are transcoding and games really

And OSes, and browsers, and movie playback, etc.
br>

Give it another year or two and I'm sure I won't even look at the spec for what processor is in a machine I buy: of course it will be fine.

But fine for what? Yeah, if all you want to do is browse the web a bit and do e-mail, perhaps that Celeron will do, but in 3 years?

The Core i7 you buy today is more or less "future-proof", it will have enough processing power so you won't need to buy a new machine when you need a better CPU for basic use. Remember when 3.2 Ghz of P4 power seemed to be more than enough? Now that is considered to be very low-end.

Re:Computers are a commodity (3, Insightful)

Draek (916851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058360)

How much more performance do we need before we all say: "enough."?

We already did, that's how netbooks gained such a following in the first place.

This drive towards bigger drives and more processing power is driven not by consumer demands, but simply due to a marketing need: after all, given the same price most people would opt for a dual-core over a single-core computer, even if they need only one.

Give it another year or two and I'm sure I won't even look at the spec for what processor is in a machine I buy: of course it will be fine.

I already am at that point. My current notebook is horribly underpowered compared even to the cheapest netbook out there, yet if it weren't for its deader-than-dead battery it'd still suit me perfectly.

Though, given the same price, I'd still probably go for this new dual-core CPU over the older, single-core one, in spite of having ample proof of being satisfied with either.

Re:Computers are a commodity (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32058392)

They don't need to do a damn thing about replacing sales.
Most of those "new sales" are exactly from that, peoples computers dying.
The people who do upgrade cycles are a minority in computer sales.
Sounds a bit stupid, but that's the way things work.

I haven't met any average person who is just out casually buying a new computer for kicks or SUPER COOL NEW OS MAN, it is because "my computers fucked".
It just doesn't happen. As long as this person has a computer to access whatever crap they do on facebook or bebo, they are happy. Whether it was on an iPhone or highest spec computer you can buy today. And they'd treat both of them equally shit. (like my sister who broke her laptop by tripping on it a month back, TRIPPING ON A LAPTOP.)

Your post is speaking as if everybody who buys a computer is remotely smart and knowledgeable about computers. Most people don't even know what files are, they'd happily open an executable called virus.exe.

And this barrier won't be reached either. Well, it won't be reached until we have Matrix-like power.
Gaming and multimedia development is what pushes all of these computers to evolve.
And gaming, regardless of what some idiots say on their craptacular blogs, is not going to die on the PC.
For the most part, it is shitty, but with things such as Steam, Windows Live Games and similar digital platforms, gaming can stay stable in those areas with just barely acceptable DRM.
Multimedia requirements such as photo editing, movie editing, audio, 3D modelling, etc., can always use some more power to them.

TVs (2, Insightful)

kjart (941720) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058536)

TVs are a commodity too, but that doesn't mean that there aren't people that heavily research before buying one. Sure, there are people that go into a store and get whatever looks good and is on sale (the vast majority, I'd wager), but most people have been doing that for years with computers too. This is the difference between an enthusiast and a layperson, and the former is not going away anytime soon.

Ever heard of something that... (1)

aBaldrich (1692238) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058616)

should be enough for anyone?

Re:Computers are a commodity (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058886)

The problem is we will keep finding uses for the extra power, ensuring that "good enough" is only valid for conservative users.

For the average user, they just want to click "Like" on Facebook and send out a few blobs of text per day. These are the target market for netbooks and nettops, and that's fine. There are quite a few of us (I hope) who actually want to push the boundaries and see just what we can achieve with faster CPUs and greater RAM. Scientists, researchers, hackers, imagineers... For these fertile minds, there is no such thing as "enough".

Re:Computers are a commodity (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#32059006)

Computers years ago already passed the good-enough mark for normal usage. The only thing that still drives processors are transcoding and games really.

Transcoding and games aren't normal usage? What else do you do with a computer?

Re:Computers are a commodity (2, Insightful)

marciot (598356) | more than 4 years ago | (#32059102)

The inflationary days of selling computing hardware may just be over: now we seem to be getting into a saturated sector. What will manufacturers do to replace those sales?

Why, declare that the future is "in the cloud" and that we should be buying devices which are less powerful that our current ones, so we can pay subscription fees on our apps.

Not a Netbook (4, Insightful)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 4 years ago | (#32057790)

First netbooks had small screens and awesome battery life. Then they made bigger screens, which used more battery. Then they put in larger and larger spinning hard drives, faster processors, and now dual-core?

So we go from a tiny, long-lived netbook to a large (and heavy) powerful and short-lived netbook. Also known as a laptop.

What's next - a high end graphics card so people can play games?

I have one of the early EeePCs - I think it's the 900A - with a 4GB SSD and a 9 inch screen. It runs for at least 5 hours, and depending on the pants I wear it can fit into a cargo pocket. *That's* a netbook.

Re:Not a Netbook (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 4 years ago | (#32057840)

Thank You! Remember when they used to be called SCCs for "Small, Cheap Computer"? Now they are less small, less cheap... Also, they boot a whole lot slower with the 160gig drive than they do with a 8gig flash. So in the quest for "performance" they gave up performance as well.

Re:Not a Netbook (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 4 years ago | (#32057926)

Also, they boot a whole lot slower with the 160gig drive than they do with a 8gig flash.

Bootchart claims about 35 seconds to boot my single-core Atom netbook with hard drive, which is about 15 seconds slower than the HTPC system with a dual-core Atom and SSD. If I boot it up to use for half an hour, that's about a 1% saving in time for a 95% loss of storage space... for me that's an easy trade.

Re:Not a Netbook (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058022)

I'm in favor of small computers that aren't especially cheap. If the iPad actually had the features I wanted (full computer instead of etch-a-sketch), that price point would seem reasonable for a netbook. I'd want the extra money to go to reliability/durability, battery life, and, if possible, power.

Re:Not a Netbook (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058248)

Then what you want isn't a netbook. You want an ultra-portable-PC, which have existed for a while and will keep continuing to exist.

What I want (and the masses want) is cheap, reasonably powerful laptops. Quite honestly I want something $200 that can browse the full web, have a reasonably decent keyboard, etc. I want components that are enough to multi-task, play music, movies, etc. and also to play some games. Not the newest releases, but be able to play most games reasonably.

Re:Not a Netbook (4, Interesting)

znerk (1162519) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058426)

I want something $200 that can browse the full web

Part of the problem here would be that "the full web" includes things like flash - which can bring a reasonably decent machine to its knees without too much effort. Flash games, such as those made by Zynga (think Cafe World and Farmville) are especially heinous in this regard - I've seen 60% CPU usage and 0.5GB RAM sucked up by a single instance of firefox (with a single tab/window) running their bloated, poorly-coded flash games. This was on a machine that, while not top-of-the-line, is quite adequate for pushing World of Warcraft at a playable framerate (even in Dalaran, instances, and battlegrounds, for those of you for whom this metric will mean anything).

Re:Not a Netbook (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058782)

What I find funny is the way folks are just totally hooked on those things, and judge the PC by them. The other day my GF called complaining about how she was stuck at her mom's while new flooring was being laid at her place and how horrible it was to play Farmville on her mom's new netbook. She was like "I click and the hourglass just comes up and stays. This sucks!"

And in the same breath she wanted to know if it was okay to bring the "little dinosaur" I gave her as a backup to her mom's and hook it to an old CRT there, because it was "a soooo much better computer!" and I just didn't have the heart to tell her the "little dino" is actually a decade old Compaq 733Mhz SFF with a Geforce 5200 in it. Hell to her it doesn't matter if the PC is a decade old while her mom's netbook is brand new, because Farmvillve plays well on the dino and slow on the netbook.

So yeah, I have a feeling that even though the upgrade treadmill is gone for folks like my 67 year old dad, if there is a female in the house it is alive and well. I've already sold a couple of desktops this past month on the basis of Farmville. While geeks use Crysis as a benchmark the girls only care about how nicely a PC will load Farmville and that little treasure island game.

Intel and AMD ought to give thanks to crappy web coders, because I have a feeling they are gonna drive a LOT of low end adoption of new PCs.

Re:Not a Netbook (4, Informative)

0123456 (636235) | more than 4 years ago | (#32057868)

I have one of the early EeePCs - I think it's the 900A - with a 4GB SSD and a 9 inch screen. It runs for at least 5 hours, and depending on the pants I wear it can fit into a cargo pocket. *That's* a netbook.

The EeePC I bought a few months ago has a 100+GB hard drive, 10 or 11 inch screen and runs for at least as long (the battery display claims 9 hours but I don't quite believe it). The only downside is that it barely fits into my jacket pocket, but I couldn't live with a screen any smaller than it has anyway.

Don't the new dual-core Atom systems use less power than the old single cores?

Re:Not a Netbook (3, Informative)

dnaumov (453672) | more than 4 years ago | (#32057956)

First netbooks had small screens and awesome battery life. Then they made bigger screens, which used more battery. Then they put in larger and larger spinning hard drives, faster processors, and now dual-core?

So we go from a tiny, long-lived netbook to a large (and heavy) powerful and short-lived netbook. Also known as a laptop.

What's next - a high end graphics card so people can play games?

I have one of the early EeePCs - I think it's the 900A - with a 4GB SSD and a 9 inch screen. It runs for at least 5 hours, and depending on the pants I wear it can fit into a cargo pocket. *That's* a netbook.

Since when is a 5 hour battery time in any way impressive? You do realize there are a lot of notebooks out there with 8-12h battery time?

Re:Not a Netbook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32058320)

Please point out one.

Re:Not a Netbook (1)

pedrop357 (681672) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058470)

I can get 8 hours with my Alienware M11x with light to moderate web surfing over wireless. I watch a lot of videos and surf more intensely, it's about 6.5-7

From what i've heard, Apple is pretty close with their numbers and they claim their new 13" MacBook pro is good for 10 hours. Lenovo claims something like 12 with one of their smaller offerings (X something or other.)

Re:Not a Netbook (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058554)

MacBook Pros advertise a 10 hour battery life, and get around 8-9 in tests.

Re:Not a Netbook (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058576)

Since when is a 5 hour battery time in any way impressive?

Since it comes in a device weighing around 1kg (2.2lbs)...
Sure, carry a car battery around and you'll get days and days of battery-life...

Re:Not a Netbook (1)

MagusSlurpy (592575) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058010)

I've got an Asus 1201N, with a 12" screen, Nvidia ION dedicated graphics card, 2 GB of DDR2, and a 1.6 GHz N330 dual-core Atom. It got 4 hours of operating time straight out of the box, and when I upgraded it to 3 GB and a 64 GB SSD in February, the battery life went up to 4.5 hours. So now I have something that weighs 1/3 of my Dell Latitude and is 1/4 the size and has twice the battery life. It doesn't have quite the same power, but it's good enough for what I need it for - my Latitude hasn't left its (dedicated) laptop bag since I got the Eee, which fits perfectly into the top pouch of my bookbag.

It might not fit your definition of a netbook, but it sure fits mine.

Re:Not a Netbook (1)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058126)

My Acer Aspire One has a 11.6" 1366x768 screen, 160gb hdd, 2gb ram, and a nearly (90%) full size keyboard. The whole package is something like 2.5lbs, and it lasts over 6 hours with a 6-cell battery.

I couldn't tolerate smaller screens due to the poor resolution, and a 70% keyboard where all characters have been placed in different places due to space constraints is pretty useless to me. I think that as far as a compromise between portability and usability, my 11.6" NETbook is about as good as it gets.

On the other hand, I can't tolerate small laptops - if I want a laptop I can work on, I want something with a 15 inch or larger screen, 1680x1050 or higher resolution, a full size keyboard, and a Core 2 Duo with a real graphics card.

Re:Not a Netbook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32059080)

Hate to break it to you, but your Aspire One isn't a netbook. It's a small laptop. Deal with it.

Re:Not a Netbook (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32058140)

depending on the pants I wear it can fit into a cargo pocket.

you must be incredibly fucking fat

Re:Not a Netbook (1)

Dionysus (12737) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058142)

I got a newer model EeePC, 1101HA, 250 GB harddisk with 11.6" screen and got 9+ hours (closer to 10, and yes, I've tested that).

Re:Not a Netbook (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32058210)

It runs for at least 5 hours, and depending on the pants I wear it can fit into a cargo pocket. *That's* a netbook.

And a fat ass.

Re:Not a Netbook (1)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058218)

I had an old MP3 player by Cowon with a dual processor, and it had 60h battery life. I am surprised the Atom which is a much more powerfull and energy hungry cpu doesn't. If more cores can leed to lower clock-frequencies they may even save power this way.

Re:Not a Netbook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32058254)

Um, I have a Asus UL30A with a core 2 duo processor and 13" monitor. It's battery life is 10 hours under normal usage conditions. 5 hours isn't impressive anymore.

Re:Not a Netbook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32058272)

Exactly - I worry about web browsers (or more precisely, web content) becoming so fat that a current generation netbook won't handle the load.

Re:Not a Netbook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32058866)

the recent asus eee pc 1005pe (10" 1024x600, n450, 1GB RAM, 250GB hard drive and chiclet keyboard) has a battery life of 9-11 hours of REAL usage with a plain 6 cells battery (ships with win7 only :( ). it's way way better than the original 7" eee and a lot better than my eee 901. there is still room for improvement in the netbook range (full hd capable, better screen resolution, a bit more cpu) without lowering too much the runtime on battery or increasing the size if they really want to in the near future.

Re:Not a Netbook (1)

Stevecrox (962208) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058964)

The benefits don't have to be purely in the netbook space, I own a Samsung AC10 which uses a x64 n230 chip and I manage to get somewhere between 4 - 6 hours battery life out of the thing. Since DRM killed my interest in PC Gaming I replaced my Intel Core 2 Duo Quad Core with two Nvidia 9600GT's gaming rig with a Nvidia ION N330 machine. It's half the size, fan-less, cost £200 and while my old system would burn more than 100 watts on idle the new machine uses 60 watts at peak.

The main reason I made the change was because the Nvidia ION chipset had a Nvidia 9400, which isn't a particularly powerful graphics card but is good enough to play all my older PC games well and the dual core N330 is more than enough to do everything I want on a PC.

I agree having dual/quad core netbooks does defeat the point of netbooks, but those chips make sense in the desktop space.

Re:Not a Netbook (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058994)

What you correctly identified is the impact of idiot consumers on product lines and marketing. People liked the cute 7" EEEs, but they lacked a few creature comforts so the masses complained. Asus responded by creating shitty laptops that addressed these complaints.

It is a lost cause to explain to some people that a large EEE offers worse value than a small conventional laptop. They also think Microsoft owns Intel and AMD is a kind of "Lunix".

What I never understood is if these Atom-based netbooks use 10-15 watts, and my full-power laptop draws 95 watts, then why can't they put a man-sized battery in a netbook and have it last 12+ hours ? I just want a machine that will get through an entire day without charging; a programmer's notepad so I can type and test my brilliant code snippets whenever and wherever they materialize.

Re:Not a Netbook (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#32059144)

Don't worry; in a few years, cell"phones" will be the size of netbooks, with equivalent power. And once they get as large as laptops, maybe digital watches will have gotten the size of netbooks. After that, I dunno, maybe pacemakers will have suffered from feature-itis too?

Re:Not a Netbook (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32059166)

I have a 17" LED backlist MBP Core2 Duo with 320GB of spinning platters that gives me 6 minimum hours unless I'm playing games or watching flash ... Your netbook isn't even impressive compared to a modern laptop. I've easily spent more than 6 doing nothing but web browsing over wifi (without flash enabled of course).

I really fail to see the usefulness of a netbook short of a completely throw away device that you don't give a shit about the fact that it got soaked with water when someone did a cannon ball next to you at the pool. Anything that small is useless as far as being 'big enough' imo, might as well just use my phone. Sure its smaller but it always fits in my pocket and it'll last a good 6 hours doing basic stuff as well, OGL games tend to kill it of course, but thats not something your netbook is even capable of doing.

Tell Apple (1)

Weezul (52464) | more than 4 years ago | (#32057846)

Apple just released an oversized mobile phone to compete with netbooks, while others ship cheaper laptops. lol

$600 range? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32057866)

For $600, I had better be getting a full-fledged laptop. If it's got more than a 12" screen, or less than 5 hours battery life, or costs more than $400 tops, it's simply not a netbook. Small form factor, long battery life, inexpensive price. That's what defines the netbook market. Or "small laptop", if you want to avoid what is rapidly becoming just a marketing buzzword.

Netbook =/ Laptop (2, Insightful)

Oceanplexian (807998) | more than 4 years ago | (#32057892)

The whole point of a netbook was to use inexpensive and low power commodity hardware.

The dual-core Atom is nice, but I hope they don't lose focus on building low-power, high efficiency processors. It looks like ARM is leading the way in that respect.

Along the same lines... (3, Funny)

FlyByPC (841016) | more than 4 years ago | (#32057906)

Next, they plan to release a dual-engine moped.

Along the same lines... further down the road (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32058098)

Next, they plan to release a dual-engine moped.

Wake me when they have V8 option available.

Re:Along the same lines... further down the road (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32058216)

How about a blender? [youtube.com]

Re:Along the same lines... (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058152)

Next, they plan to release a dual-engine moped.

Nowadays we call those "hybrid drives".

Stepping it up (1)

nataflux (1733716) | more than 4 years ago | (#32057990)

And to think I'm playing TF2 on a single core, i guess i should step it up, thank amd for the am3 socket :D

ARM??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32058146)

What happened to all the low power ARM netbooks that were supposed to be shipping by now?

Aside from the quite under-whelming AlwaysInnovating thing, there is... what exactly?

Re:ARM??? (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058938)

Ask the people who were whining for Windows on their netbooks, only to realize that having windows on that thing does not work out.

Cost Effective Redundancy (2, Insightful)

mindbrane (1548037) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058162)

I'm currently trying to arrive at a rational, fairly large computer investment in terms of what an individual might pay out. My thinking runs along some blurred lines only because the issues seem to be essentially unclear. Overall, is an individual as a heavy, personal computer user better off making a major long term investment in general computing power in terms of 32 bit architecture and, more or less, disposable units like the dual core, system on a chip, intel Pineview units; or, better off staying with the curve and building 64 bit multi core towers and waiting on the software to catch up to the 64 bit platforms? Say the prospective purchaser is thinking of what a "Beowulf cluster of these" could do. :) I've made an earnest effort to understand PCs as a "power user" since the mid 80's and I think I understand the issues. In terms of software if, today, you were to make a decision to buy either system on a chip 32 bit stuff (or 64 bit SOC stuff running 32 bit software) then 32 bit stuff should be the way to go because of reams of time tested software. I run R and Octave, but like most geeks want to be able to start out with an electronic sketch of an idea and work it, hopefully, up to more abstract but rigorous and formal levels of thought.

More than 5 years ago I frequently said the tower was destined for the basement to share space with water heaters, freezers and furnaces. I still think that's the case. I think every home will have a server, maintained mostly by outside technicians and the house residents will use personal laptop/netbook units.

Primary concern should be portability. (1)

wadam (563519) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058174)

This makes sense, so long as they remain light. I own a netbook, exclusively, because of form factor. Up until recently, I had a 15" Macbook Pro, and liked it a lot. But even at 5.5 pounds -- even with its space-efficient form factor -- it was just too big. I didn't want to carry it with me unless I was travelling long distances for extended periods. So I traded it in, and now I have an HP110 netbook plus a desktop. It's easy to keep my documents synced between them. The netbook is powerful enough for me while I'm on the road (I mostly use it for writing academic-type articles). And for all of my heavy-lifting-type computing, I use the desktop at home. This, to me, is the perfect set-up. So I sincerely hope that netbooks are able to keep up with my needs in terms of portability.

Dual core Atoms came out in Sept 2008 (4, Informative)

idealego (32141) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058180)

What this article should say is that new lower-power dual-core Atoms are about to be released.

Re:Dual core Atoms came out in Sept 2008 (3, Interesting)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058640)

I approve. I've been testing a dual-core nVidia ION setup for use as a thin-client at work, and it's worlds apart from my eeepc 901 netbook at home. It's almost indistinguishable from a real desktop unless I run FPU-intensive apps on it.

The Atom 330 runs 64-bit code, the dual cores keep it from stuttering and pausing like my eeepc, and the nVidia GPU make it perform well on movies and light 3D, whereas the Intel GPU has lots of artifacts and is slow under Linux (and the newer pinetrail cores use the crappy PowerVR GMA500 chipsets that aren't supported under most Linux distros unless you manage to shoehorn in the one binary blob driver thy occasionally release for a particular version of ubuntu),

I'm waiting for ION2 nettops to come out, and then I'm planning on using one to replace my 24x7 home Linux server. I think this is the real market for these devices, small nettops and netbooks that you can just drop in anywhere for $200 - $400 to do one specific task and just forget about. There will always be a "real" computer somewhere in the house for gaming or heavy-duty web browsing or whatever, but most households will only buy 1 every few years. These cheap devices are at a price point where people say "yeah, I could throw one in the car to use as a large-screen GPS" or "I could put one behind the TV so it could play movies and show photo screensavers".

Once they reach the $50 - $100 range, they'll sell even more, since people could start buying them as presents, and you'd have a lot of useless stuff left around. I wish the older Palm Pilots were here already, it would be great to have little touchscreens lying around everywhere to use as remote controls or music players or something :-/

Re:Dual core Atoms came out in Sept 2008 (3, Informative)

kenh (9056) | more than 4 years ago | (#32059000)

Atoms are (and always have been) low-power, it was the chipset that caused problems. Using older 945 chipset caused power/heat to rise, the new low-power chipsets have been out for months now, as shown on boards like the D510MO mini-ITX board from Intel.

Dual-Core Atom (1)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058380)

OEMs and chip manufacturers have a large incentive to raise the price of netbooks with quality hardware. Releasing a $100 netbook with dirt cheap hardware and super-low specs would cannabalize their sales and ultimately eat into their profits.

I'm sure we've already discussed this before on Slashdot. What I'm interested in is what happens after this next generation, which will be capable of flawless 1080P playback.

Multiple factual errors and dubious statements... (5, Insightful)

tjrw (22407) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058406)

As others have already mentioned, dual-core Atom processors have been out for 2 years, so a dual-core Atom is nothing new.

As regards the support of DDR3 memory, it's unlikely to make any measurable performance difference over DDR2 given the relatively anaemic CPU performance of the Atom. The reason is far more prosaic. DDR3 is now cheaper than DDR2 and that trend will continue so Intel are doing the right thing in moving the chipset support over to the less expensive memory. In a budget platform anything else would be foolish.

Re:Multiple factual errors and dubious statements. (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058698)

As regards the support of DDR3 memory, it's unlikely to make any measurable performance difference over DDR2 given the relatively anaemic CPU performance of the Atom. The reason is far more prosaic. DDR3 is now cheaper than DDR2 and that trend will continue so Intel are doing the right thing in moving the chipset support over to the less expensive memory. In a budget platform anything else would be foolish.

Also, memory latency has not improved since regular SDRAM. DDR doubled the throughput, DDR2 doubled it once more, and so on, but the latency has stayed the same. Latency numbers such as CL are roughly doubled at each generation to reflect the roughly constant time, as measured in clock cycles.

On the other hand, successive RAM generations use lower voltages, so there may be some power savings in using DDR3.

netbooks became laptops (4, Insightful)

DaveGod (703167) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058498)

Barely had the netbook started hitting the mainstream that they were getting bigger screens, bigger drives, more weight, less battery life, bigger price tag. Most of them very quickly became just crap laptops.

Most of them are seem terrible value. For around 10%-15% more you can get something that at least holds itself to the standard of a low-end laptop, with a much more powerful type of "1.6ghz cpu" and other components yet after a few months the battery life is practically the same. The weight is for all intents and purposes very similar.

Netbooks were good because they were less than two-thirds the price of a laptop, were far more portable (could be forgotten about in a basic satchel), had long batteries. While the spec looked low, general use was actually snappy because it was using SSD and a light OS. You only noticed the performance loss when doing things that actually required decent horsepower (though choppy flash video was a bit of a weakness), which wasn't something you'd want a netbook for anyway.

The summary suggests laptops became cheaper to bridge the gap between them and netbooks. I think it was much more than netbooks turned into laptops.

Re:netbooks became laptops (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32058792)

And in the meantime I bought a Nokia N900 instead of a netbook, as that phone is bridging the gap between phones and netbooks. The mind boggles.

Atom is Fail, CULV already broke the $400 barrier (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32058540)

The general trend to keep shoving atom and the general pricing upwards is pure failure.

Acer got it right late last year with DUAL core2s in 11" netbooks, the base model was $400 and ran circles around anything else.

Yet intel et al through OEMs keep trying to flub atom junk past that price point. What gives?

Often with nvidia gpus, anemic cpus with oddball gpu chipset is a terrible combo.

Also partly blame nvidia for not getting newer bus licenses, which is why the hideous future ion configurations appear.

There still is a huge chance for amd to make a proper "netbook" cpu+gpu combo chip that isn't a slow overpriced platform.

I expect MORE cpu AND gpu power in CHEAPER netbooks in 2010, not less. The culvs set the benchmark Q42009 and so far the industry is failing badly.

The 200 Notebook (1)

Crass Spektakel (4597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058614)

I remember when the "netbook" was an attempt to create a minimalistic, cheap, long running notebook computer. 200 and you were ready to rock.

Nowadays the only real innovation is "more expensive", "more gadgets", "bigger"... not exactly what I expect from a "netbook"... well, after all the wintel cartel got the netbook totally under control again...

Where is the 150, 500g ARM netbook with an optimized OS running 12 hours without recharge???

Re:The 200 Notebook (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058754)

Where is the 150, 500g ARM netbook with an optimized OS running 12 hours without recharge???

I think this [alwaysinnovating.com] comes pretty close, and this [kd85.com] is also quite interesting. Neither is close to 500 g, but at least you can buy one right now.

What I've Heard... (2, Interesting)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058704)

The DDR3-capable processors should allow data to be exchanged faster between the memory and CPU, translating to better overall netbook performance.

What I've heard is that memory isn't the bottleneck in Atom CPPU's. As such, DDR3 really won't improve performance at all -- and is really just a marketing bullet point to charge higher prices with.

Re:What I've Heard... (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058914)

True the bottleneck in atomcs nowadays is the graphics and intel tries everything to lock nividia out...
The funny thing is an old ION (Aka Atom + NVidia ION Northbridge) combination probably performs better than anything Intel will have to offer in the Atom arena for the upcoming years. NVidia has been delegated to PCI-E connectivity with the current ION2 generation and it shows unfortunately, and what Intel with their integrated garbage offers, well everyone knows how miserable Intels approachs to graphics are.

Re:What I've Heard... (1)

Narishma (822073) | more than 4 years ago | (#32059032)

Actually DDR3 is now (or soon will be) cheaper than DDR2. That's why they are switching.

The best mobile chip out there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32058774)

The best mobile chip out there-and Apple not only doesn't use it, but they crippled Snow Leopard so it won't work with them.
How DUMB!!

Re:The best mobile chip out there... (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058932)

Actually the best mobile chip out there probably is currently the NVidia Tegra2 chipset...
Anything Intel has to offer in that area is miserable at best.

$600 for shit intel video? where is the amd ones? (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058890)

$600 for shit intel video? where is the amd ones?

Amd has much better video chips then Intel gma.

Not really anything new... (1)

kenh (9056) | more than 4 years ago | (#32058978)

Dual-core Atom CPUs have been around for a while (first the 330, now the 510 chips), the real advance is that now you'll get better performance from DDR3 RAM for integrated graphics and the newer chips support the first low-power support chips.

A dual-core Atom-based system can satisfy many user's needs, when you bake in a discrete graphics option (nVidea ION, for example) it will satisfy many more users, but it will never be, and was never intended to be, the 'only chip you'd ever need'. It is a niche product that got caught up in the home server/media center swell of interest.

Quite a bit of difference in 1vs2 core (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 4 years ago | (#32059230)

We have two test Point-Of-Sale terminals. One is a 1.6ghz single core Atom, the other is a dual Core 1.6ghz Atom. Both are running WEPOS with 1GB of Ram and the dual core Atom runs the Java based POS app and PostgreSQL 8.4 just as snappy as our Core2Duo machines. The single core machine we notice there is about a 2 second lag when you start a new ticket when running the POS+DB server on the same machine.

Still, the energy usage of the Dual Core Atom is way below the P4 machines they've replaced.

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