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What is an Intel® Atom™ Processor?

Ken Black
Ken Black

The Intel® Atom™ processor is a computer processor specifically designed to meet the needs of those doing basic mobile computing. The processor has much of the function of a normal computer, though it may not have as many multimedia capabilities. It is capable of running the Windows® operating system along with others. The benefit, according to the manufacturer and those who have reviewed the chip, is in the ability of the Intel® Atom™ processor to do so without requiring massive amounts of energy.

Invariably, one of the limitations to any notebook computer is the drain it places on the battery when not connected to an external power source. Thus, computer manufacturers, especially those who make processors, have continuously searched for a processor with suitable ability, but which does not consume as much power as a desktop model. The Intel® Atom™ processor represents one of those inventions. Other competing chips have also come along.

Man holding computer
Man holding computer

The main target of the Intel® Atom&trade processor is the lower-end computer, where it is assumed that the user will not require as much power. The benefit to the consumer is the longer battery life. Whereas most mobile computers may only get two to three hours, on average, of life off a new battery, the Intel® Atom™ chip can provide as many as eight hours of life, depending on the programs being used. Those who choose this option should understand that the computer is not meant to do much more than surf the Internet, e-mail, and perhaps do other simple tasks like word processing. Those who try to use the computer as a gaming machine, or for higher end programs may find it performs slowly, or perhaps not at all.

Overall, speed is the one aspect of the Intel® Atom™ that was given consistently poor marks by many of those who review the latest computer hardware. In some cases, it would take several minutes simply to open a program. This may not be acceptable for some users. For others, who simply want to surf the Internet, a slight delay may be acceptable.

Intel® Atom™ processors get their name from their small size. Intel® has marketed the chip as the world's smallest computer processor. While there may be a lot of technology packaged into the product for its size, the price also received high marks from reviewers.

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