The Intel Atom N550 processor is the first dual core Atom chip built specifically for netbooks. Up until now all dual core Atom processors have been designed for low power desktops. While there aren’t any netbooks shipping with the N550 chip recently, the folks at Notebook Italia got a chance to spend a few minutes with a pre-release Asus netbook with an Atom N550 chip recently, and they ran a simple benchmark to see how the computer stacked up against PCs with several other processors.
The long and short of it is, the Atom N550 is pretty darn good and performing tasks that can take advantage of the chips multithreading capabilities. While the chip technically has only 2 cores, thanks to multithreading, it can run as many as 4 threads simultaneously. And so when using the file compression app 7Zip’s built-in benchmarking utility, Notebook Italia found that the 1.5GHz Atom N550 was twice as fast as a 1.66 Intel Atom N450 processor. It was also a little faster than systems with Intel Atom 330 and D510 desktop dual core processors.
One interesting sidenote is that the Atom N550 also trounced the Intel Core 2 Solo SU3300 processor in this benchmark. That’s likely because the core 2 Solo chip is a single core processor that doesn’t support hyperthreading. But I suspect that for many tasks, that processor will actually offer better performance than the Atom N550. I’d expect to see the multi-core, hyperthreading Atom N550 take the lead when it comes to running multiple applications simultaneously or running apps that are designed to take advantage of multiple threading capabilities.
That said, if you’ve been lamenting that Intel has been pumping out Atom chips for netbooks for over two years with almost no perceptible difference in performance, it looks like the Atom N550 could be the first chip to change that.