Intel Atom price rise rumoured

March 24, 2009 // 10:03 a.m.

Tags: #arm #asus #atom #cortex #credit-crunch #eee-pc #freescale #intel #ion #n270 #n280 #netbook #price-rise #z520

If you're in the market for a new netbook, you might want to buy now – rumour has it that Intel is considering upping its prices for the popular Atom N270 processor.

According to reports over on Digitimes, the CPU maker is looking to increase the wholesale cost of its Atom N270 chip to Chinese OEMs due to upstream component shortages. The 1.6GHz processor may even be increased to match the price of its newer 1.66GHz brother the N280 – despite the newer chip having a higher clock speed and significantly faster bus speed for the same power draw.

While Intel hasn't yet confirmed or denied the rumoured increase, it's certainly true that demand for the processor has skyrocketed. With manufacturers pumping out netbook after netbook all based around the Atom N270 chip, it's not hard to imagine that demand has outstripped Intel's expectations – and that is all too likely to lead to a shortage in the channel as Intel retools to meet demand.

That said, many manufacturers – including Asus, creators of what many perceive as the original netbook in the Eee PC – are starting to move to more energy efficient chips such as the Z520 as used in the new Eee PC T91 tablet PC-stroke-netbook. Even so, this still leaves a wide range of products on the market that rely on supplies of the N270.

This is a game Intel has to be careful playing: with competitors looking to break in to the netbook market, the company could risk pricing itself out of the game if it raises costs to OEM too much.

Do you think Intel is making a smart move raising the prices of the staple of the netbook market in economically uncertain conditions, or should the company rely on volume instead of margins to keep the cash flowing? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

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