Netbook gets speed boost from dual Atom chips

Haleron aims to provide the performance of a standard laptop at a lower price by combining two Atom chips in its Swordfish Net N102 netbook

A Colombian computer maker has designed a netbook that aims to provide the performance of a standard laptop at a lower price.

Haleron combined two of Intel's Atom processors in its new netbook, which it says provides better performance than existing models. Most netbooks today use a single Atom chip.

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The Swordfish Net N102 includes two Atom N270 processors running at 1.6GHz. It is designed to provide the power of a standard laptop at a price most Latin Americans can afford, the company wrote on its Web site.

"The standard notebook or laptop computer, although an industry standard around the world, was out of reach for many Latin Americans," the company said.

A netbook with a single Atom chip "just could not support the multitasking needs of students and professionals," it said. So it set out to build its own. It modified Intel's 945 chipset to run the two processors, which took it about six months. The processors divide the workload, much like a dual-core processor does, the company said.

But running two processors took its toll on the netbook's battery life. A three-cell battery provides only two-and-a-half hours of run time, so the company offers an additional six-cell battery that adds up to four-and-a-half hours of use.

"We have developed what we feel is the best solution for a load sharing dual Atom processor netbook," the company said.

The netbook is priced at $449, and the optional six-cell battery adds another $29. It comes with 2GB of RAM and a 160GB hard drive. It also includes a Web cam, a 4-in-1 card reader and built-in WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) 3G broadband module and 802.11b/g wireless networking.

The netbook comes with Windows XP Home Edition. "We found that it works best on the Windows XP operating system. Both Windows Vista and the new Windows 7 performed below Windows XP in the load sharing department," the company said.

The laptop is available on the company's Web site.

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