Like Microsoft, which only sells low cost Windows XP licenses to PC makers with netbooks and nettops that meet specific criteria, Intel reportedly has certain restrictions on the way its Atom processor is used. Intel’s restrictions aren’t quite as absolute. Fail to meet the requirements and you can still purchase the processor, you’ll just have to pay more. DigiTimes is reporting that Samsung and Lenovo have both released or announced Atom-based products that don’t fit into Intel’s little box, and as a result, both companies have lost their preferential pricing for the Intel Atom N270 CPU.

According to DigiTimes, Lenovo and Samsung’s big sin was to announce Atom-powered laptops with 11.6 to 12.1 inch displays. But they’re hardly the only companies to do so. Acer, Dell, and Asus also have larger Atom-powred laptops that are either available or in the works. I’m guessing Intel’s real beef with Lenovo and Samsung is that the Lenovo IdeaPad S12 and Samsung N510 will both be available with NVIDIA’s Ion platform, which bundles the Atom processor with NVIDIA graphics instead of Intel’s 945GSE chipset and GMA 950 graphics.

There’s no word on how much that preferential pricing is actually worth, so it’s tough to say whether Lenovo and Samsung’s decision to offer these machines will result in higher prices all around for their netbooks or not.

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12 replies on “Report: Lenovo, Samsung lose preferential pricing for Intel Atom CPUs”

  1. Intel is pretty shifty with regard to their Atom pricing: you can either get the standalone chip for $45, or the chip plus the crappy GMA950 chipset for $25. Obviously, Intel is a profit-motivated company, so they wouldn’t do this for any reason but to discourage better chipsets being paired with their CPU. I’m certain that were the prices reversed, you’d see the GMA950 disappear from the face of the earth in one hardware cycle.

    It’s funny though – the pricing is almost just if not for the existence of better alternative chipsets – the typical Atom chipset handicaps the computer as a whole by crippling its GPU capability and I/O ports, and it literally is worth less from a utilitarian standpoint than similar systems with newer chipsets. A bit like buying an untrained packhorse vs buying a trained packhorse with cement blocks for shoes.

    I’m hoping this loss of preferential pricing will help push Samsung and Lenovo to abandon all typical netbook chipsets and go for worthwhile netbooks with ATI and NVIDIA parts (or just skip to AMD and VIA systems altogether).

    I didn’t want a GMA950 in my future Thinkpad netbook, anyway 😛

  2. On the bright side there is a good possibility that the 11″ netbooks will be the next big seller, thus putting Samsung and Lenovo out in front of the competition.

    As netbooks become more mainstream they will need to satisfy more mainstream tastes in a similar curve. Your average consumer will like an 11″ screen especially if, like the N510, it weighs nearly that same as a 10″ netbook.

    1. Or the next big thing could be going back to 9″ models using ARM processors and Intel could be partially responsible for sliting their own throat with higher prices.

  3. Traditionally, when you buy something, you own it and can use it in any legal fashion you please. For example, McDonalds doesn’t dictate how you eat their hamburgers and probably wishes you would feed a few to your dog.

    The controls used by Intel and MS seem to be edging a bit toward the pernicious. Maybe there are precedents for this sort of thing in technology, the TV industry or perhaps the movie industry.

    What are some other examples of this sort of control?

  4. Hopefully at least either Lenovo or Samsung, preferrably both, will release 12″ netbooks with matte screens, and perhaps better processors than Atom?

  5. It sounds to me as if both companies are treading in “anti-competitive” waters.
    Unfortunately, our legal system is slow and very expensive –
    It will take time and someone with very deep pockets to challenge them.

  6. If Intel keeps acting this way, the Nano and Neo may gain a bigger foothold….

    Which is fine by me. Bring on the competition. I’d like to see a greater variety in these netbooks!

Comments are closed.