Thursday, February 19, 2009

Freescale promises $200 netbook

Chicago (IL) - Within the next few months, Freescale Semiconductor is planning to bring to market a $200 netbook, placing its product at roughly half the price of the majority of netbooks on the shelves. Freescale wants to deliver the product by summer.

The new netbook would prove to the world that an Intel Atom platform is not the only way to go. The company's netbook would feature non-x86-based chips delivering up to eight hours of battery life, and would also be much thinner than the netbooks currently on sale.

Earlier this year, Freescale announced they would be designing a netbook which brough users 3G connectivity, all day battery life, and the use of their own i.MX515 processor -- which is based on ARM's Cortex-A8 technology. While this CPU is not x86-based, it does promote energy efficiency using a RISC-like design.

Additionally, Freescale has added support for other operating systems which include Phoenix's Hyperspace pre-boot shell and Xandros Linux. This runs in contrast to the company's earlier claims that it would only be compatible with Ubuntu, showing the flexibility of the platform.

The PC market is currently being flooded with netbooks, with Acer recently reporting netbook sales account for 30% of their notebook sales, and next year could account for 20% of their total PC sales. As the economy gets worse, individuals are seeking cheaper alternatives to the rugged home PC. In 2008 alone, 15 million netbook devices were sold, and researchers believe that figure will easily double (or more) this year alone. This is also due to the high performance now possible in smaller footprints. What was possible a few years ago only in a high-end PC can now be carried around in a pocket.

Freescale is aiming to redirect the netbook market away from x86 and Intel with their new chip and netbook offering. The company hopes to show that non-x86 alternatives, provided they have software support, can be viable alternatives. They want to have their netbooks in production by the middle of this year, even though a manufacturing partner has yet to be announced. Consumers should be able to put one under the tree this holiday season.

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