Right now if you want to pick up a cheap Windows notebook with a touchscreen display, your best bet is probably the Asus VivoBook X202E or Q200, which sells for under $500. But chip maker Intel expects prices to go much lower once its next-generation Atom processors hit the streets.
CNET reports that Intel CEO Paul Otellini says touch-enabled ultrathin notebook with Intel Atom Bay Trail chips could be priced as low as $200.
Intel’s low-power Atom chips tend to be some of the lowest-priced processors the company offers. And they have a long history of showing up in low-cost notebooks. The first Atom chip hit the streets in 2008, and it soon became a staple of netbook computers.
Recently Intel has focused on Atom chips for tablets and smartphones rather than notebooks, but later this year the company will launch its new Atom processors, code-named Bay Trail. They’re expected to offer twice the performance of the Clover Trail chips currently used in tablets and hybrid notebooks like the HP Envy X2, and significantly better graphics performance, while continuing to enable long battery life in mobile devices.
While Intel doesn’t set prices for notebooks and other computers made by companies using its chips, if Otellini thinks that we’ll see $200 notebooks, that’s a good indication that the chips will be relatively inexpensive. After all, device makers still need to pay for storage, memory, a display, case, and other components.
As Atom chips start to approach mainstream processors in terms of performance, Intel will be using price, among other things, to differentiate them from higher-end chips such as the upcoming 4th-generation Core processors, code-named Haswell. Those chips will offer much better performance than Bay Trail, while using far less power than earlier Core chips. In other words, they’ll probably show up in tablets and ultrathin notebooks too.