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Intel to allow 2GB RAM with future Atom netbooks

updated 04:10 pm EDT, Tue October 27, 2009

Intel Pine Trail to double RAM, drop prices

Some of Intel's Pine Trail Atoms will finally escape Intel's 1GB RAM cap for netbooks even as they drop prices, a series of leaks have indicated in the past day. While the chip maker will still officially limit certain Atoms to 1GB of memory, the 1.83GHz Atom N470 will reportedly allow running 2GB of RAM. The limit should provide a large jump in performance for small systems, particularly those with more demanding operating systems like Windows 7.

All Atoms should also result in lower overall prices for the systems. Even as one of the higher-end parts, the 1.83GHz chip should still be attached to systems that cost at most $350 and more regularly closer to $300. Intel's previously talked-about 1.66GHz Atom is also said by Fudzilla to still be tied to the 1GB limit but could result in prices as low as $250. Nettops using the D410 and D510 desktop Atom chips may also be subject to the 1GB cap may also cost below $300.

Intel and Microsoft together have been criticized for limiting the performance traits of netbooks and other low-cost ultraportables by dictating specifications that are determined more by protection of more lucrative products than by technical factors. Intel now wants most systems with screens larger than 10 inches or 2GB of RAM to use at least its Consumer Ultra Low Voltage (CULV) processors, while Microsoft during the Vista era forced most PC builders to use the more expensive but slower OS.

These factors in turn have led to common criticism of netbooks and nettops as being too slow or too small, arguments that Apple has used to reject pressure to enter the hot but low-priced netbook market.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Geordiekeith

    Joined: Dec 1969



    This story seems at odds with my experience as I am writing this on my Lenovo S10-2 with 2 GB RAM (and running Snow Leopard 10.6.1). Dual boots into Windows 7 as well just to remind me every now an then why I use Mac OS....

    This great little machine is also the reason all this tablet talk comes too late - the Lenovo is the perfect replacement for my 12" Powerbook.

  1. nowwhatareyoulookingat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    don't hurt Microsoft's feelings!

    Windows 7 isn't "more demanding". At least, that's what their PR department keeps telling me.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: MS's feelings

    In case you didn't notice, Apple's OS doesn't like simple little 1 GB RAM either. Sure, it will work. But so will Windows 7. Even Vista "works" in 1GB.

  1. Raman

    Joined: Dec 1969



    To echo geordiekeith
    Some flavors of the MSI Wind can be upgraded to 2 gigs of ram (google msi wind forum) and they have Atom chips. Some of the limitations discussed the MSI Wind forum revolve around the presence of other (i.e. 3g or wifi) cards that physically limit the placement of another memory expansion slot. i.e. take out the wifi card and you can put in another 1 gig memory card because it now fits inside the case.

    @testudo: I've heard of many people running OS X on MSI Wind's with only 1 gig of RAM and :cough: I've heard :cough: it's quite useable as a secondary machine. moreso than any flavor of windows that the netbook comes with.

    Finally, i've heard the 1 gig limit was actually imposed by MSFT to artificially prevent manufacturers from shipping vista (which really requires more than 1 gig) and cannibalizing their vista licensing/sales to OEM's like dell. I read somewhere that MSFT actually goes as far to force OEMS to not be able to load certain operating systems on netbooks with screen sizes of x " or above/below.

  1. Mr. Strat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    So what?

    An extra gig isn't going to make much of a dent when combined with the anemic Atom. I think my cell phone has more computing power.

  1. shawnde

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I run Tiger on an iBook G3/500MHz with 512MB of RAM, and it works beautifully. I do everything on it. Work, internet, fax, etc.

    I remember in my old workplace, we had lots of colored-iMacs (G3-400MHz) with 256MB of RAM for Panther or Tiger, and they did just fine.

    I know you don't want to hear it, but OS X has WAY BETTER memory and Virtual Memory paging than Windows. I can barely use XP with 1GB of RAM on an older MacBook with Bootcamp.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: @Testudo

    Tiger was a dog on my iBook G3 700Mhz, compared to Panther. It just felt so much slower. And 'usable' is always a debatable word, since I could use my iBook, but it was far from quick, speedy, snappy, or any other term people use. It was fine for a 'secondary' machine, checking email and surfing the web. But it was not good enough to do any hard tasks.

    Of course, that was back when it actually worked. Not now, after dying a horrible death of a crappy motherboard/video card connection that so many saw with that damn machine.

    And I seriously doubt you could 'barely use XP' on a 1GB MacBook, as the operating system has been around for some 8 years, back when the Pentiuum 3 was out and computers rarely had 1GB RAM. An OS that old should run gangbusters on new hardware (assuming you can get it to install - oh, wait, that's right, it's just Apple who likes to stop people from installing older OSes on newer hardware). Vista might be a 'dog' on it with that little RAM, but XP should be no problem.

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