Intel is expected to launch its next generation Atom processors later this year. The netbook version, the Atom N450, will consume less power than today’s chips while offering a little bit of a speed boost. But according to DigiTimes, some PC makers say they “will not take an aggressive role” in luanching netbooks based on the next-gen processor.

Digitimes chalks this up to cooling demand for netbooks during the first half of 2009. But I’d be kind of shocked if demand for any consumer product wasn’t lower in the first and second quarters than the fourth. There’s this little thing called the holiday season that tends to spark sales.

But I think there may be another reason why netbook makers aren’t clamoring to build machines using the latest and greatest parts: Netbooks are selling pretty well with today’s parts. And if it ain’t broke, why fix it? Traditionally, PC vendors have pumped out machine after machine with faster processors, larger hard drives, higher resolution displays, and so on.

But netbooks have never been about specs, they’ve been about price. And quite frankly, that also means most netbooks carry lower profit margins than higher end computers. So I can see why virtually every computer company, (which as of today even includes Sony), feels the need to have a netbook. But I don’t necessarily see a netbook arms-race to include the latest components in every machine. Well, not unless ARM-based systems become hits with consumers and really start taking off. But then it’d be an ARMs race, not an arms… yeah, nevermind.

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3 replies on “If it ain’t broke: PC makers may be slow to move from Atom N270 to Atom N450”

  1. I think a lot of the reason why netbook sales have slowed is that many of the people who were ok with the N270+945 combo’s performance have already purchased their netbook and others are holding out for something a bit better either performance-wise or runtime-wise. If manufacturers stick with the old chip then they won’t be gaining new segments of the market. Half the wattage, better performance (maybe an integrated memory controller can compensate for some of the disadvantages of an in-order CPU and Intel’s IGP designs), lower cost due to smaller chip sizes for CPU+chipset+io- I think they’d be really losing out to not introduce netbooks with this chip before the holiday season.

  2. GAH, why won’t the 945 chipset just DIE already?! First they ignore the GN40, and now this. I was really looking forward to Pinetrail plus Windows 7 in October.

  3. Manufacturers will switch if they think the new chip will give them an edge, but otherwise why spend the money on designing a new model if the current one is selling well? Also, what is the cost difference?

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