Intel to lift netbook restrictions

The mighty Intel empire has decided that it is not such a good idea playing King Canute with the netbook market.

The chipmaker and its chum Microsoft have been trying to stop netbooks cannibalising their notebook market by setting the size of screen of machines that its Atom chips can be jacked under the bonnet.

However, according to Digitimes, Intel will lift the restrictions with the release of its N550 dual-core Atom processors which prevented the use of the processors in devices with displays larger than 10.2 inches.

With the dual-core Atom N550 processors scheduled to launch in the second half of 2010, however, Intel will lift these restrictions, enabling the use of the processors in notebooks with 11.6- and 12.1-inch displays.

Netbooks with the new Atom N550 will feature 1GB of DDR3  memory and the choice of a 32GB solid-state drive or 250GB hard drive.

Intel is quoted as saying that it will continue to include new features, performance and higher levels of integration in the future, and “we are committed to innovation in this category”.

Intel said that it was still optimistic about the netbook market and continues to expect to see hundreds of millions of netbooks ship over the next few years.

Intel may have given up because it has twigged that allowing the Atoms in larger cheaper netbooks is the key to get its netbooks into developing countries.

Netbook sales continue to rise year to year, although the rate of growth has slowed since their introduction and the stratospheric 2,424 percent growth experienced in 2008.

At the time the reason for the growth was picked as a response to the global recession, with people wanting cheaper PCs. In the developing world, everyone needs cheaper PCs so it makes some sense for Intel to provide it.

With Intel’s support, the netbook market will grow by 25 percent next year, some analysts have predicted. It is not clear if Microsoft will follow its chum, but it is fairly likely.