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Earlier this month Intel announced the new phases of a multi-year Atom processor update. The revised Atom release schedule will see a 32nm tablet and smartphone chip (Medfield) in 2012, a 22nm chip (Silvermount) in 2013, and a 14nm chip (Airmount) in 2014.Later this year we are set to see a new Atom chip for the desktop, though. It is called Cedar Trail and will see the desktop dual-core Atom processor move to a 32nm process rather than the current 45nm offerings. That move to 32nm will bring with it a cut in power requirements and increased performance by default.AdChoices广告There may be another desirable feature coming with the introduction of 32nm Atoms, however, that we really didn’t expect to happen: they could be significantly cheaper to buy.DigiTimes is reporting that Cedar Trail Atoms will be between 30-50% cheaper than the current 45nm chips. The Atoms vendors buy today cost between $64-$86, the Cedar Trail Atoms are expected to only cost between $42-$47.While moving to a 32nm process will certainly make manufacturing the chips cheaper, the drop in price is thought to be a response by Intel to the growing popularity of tablet PCs. By making Atom processors cheaper, Intel is hoping to tempt manufacturers into releasing some very cheap netbooks.If this turns out to be true, then we could see netbook price points come down by as much as $30. Ultimately, that could mean a Windows 7 netbook with a dual core processor for $199.99 before the end of the year from the more well-known brands. That’s assuming vendors pass on the savings directly to the consumer.Read more at DigiTimesMatthew’s OpinionIntel has realized it needs to push Atom into the mobile market, and that’s why we saw the revised release schedule announced. But the first of those processors aimed at tablets and smartphones isn’t going to arrive until next year. So something has to be done with Atom until then, and while the netbook market is getting smaller, there’s still a market and a lot of chips that can be sold inside these mini-laptops.Lowering the price of Atom makes a lot of sense for a number of reasons. Alongside tempting vendors to keep making netbooks, it also paves the way for Intel to fend off ARM chips when Windows 8 is released. Netbooks will still be around when Windows 8 ships, and therefore it will ship on netbooks. But for the first time those Windows netbooks may have an ARM inside. Intel obviously doesn’t want that, so flooding the market with very cheap Atoms may be a very good short-term defense.