Intel’s next-gen Atom platform gets HD decoder chip

Intel expects its second-gen Atom Pinetrail platform to give netbooks longer battery life and slimmer profiles but not substantially better graphics performance.

Its solution? Offer netbook manufacturers an optional graphics chip to handle video up to 1080p HD.

Unfortunately for Nvidia which has been busy promoting its own Atom-compatible Ion graphics chipset for HD Intel has done a deal with Broadcom – the same company which Intel sideswiped with the success of its Centrino wireless chips.

While standard Atom Pinetrail systems will rely on integrated graphics built into the Pineview processor as part of the shift from a three-chip to two-chip platform OEMs building netbooks and small form factor desktops to handle heavy-duty HD will be able to add Broadcom’s BMC70015 graphics chip to the mix.

There’ll be a slight cost in power consumption of course: the chip will add 500mW to the netbook’s battery bill when running smooth-as-silk 720p and double that for 1080p.

That’s half as much as the 2 watts that entire Pineview processor is expected to pull although the total thermals of the complete Pinetrail package will top out at 14 watts down from 29 watts for today’s three-chip slab.

Pinetrail is tipped to be previewed at next month’s Computex techfest in Taiwan ahead of a Q4 release.