Intel Atom N280 Shipping Ahead of Schedule

Intel has begun shipping its new Atom N280 processor with the accompanying GN40 chipset to its customers. The new platform delivers a minuscule clock speed increase but significantly improves performance overall.

The N280 wasn’t expected to be released this early, but perhaps the first clue that it was ahead of schedule was that, we don’t know, a well known and popular netbook line containing the new chip is already available for pre-order?

The chip represents a clock speed increase of only .06GHz, raising the overall speed from 1.6GHz to 1.66GHz. But the most important thing they’ve done is build in a notebook-worthy GN40 integrated graphics solution, making N280 equipped netbooks capable of running 720p HD without hiccups. It’s not the 1080p that the NVidia Ion and AMD Neo are promising, but maybe it’s enough. They’ve also increased the FSB speed from 533MHz to 667MHz.

Word is the downside of the increased graphics performance is – you guessed it – increased power consumption. Battery life aside, the ability to display 720p might be enough to dissuade many from trying out the more expensive Ion when it starts to appear in netbooks. Is it enough for you? How important is the ability to display 1080p over 720p to you as a netbook owner?