News Archive (1999-2012) | 2013-current at LinuxGizmos | Current Tech News Portal |    About   

Dell netbook uses MID-sized Atom

Oct 28, 2008 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

Dell announced a netbook that breaks from the herd by using an Intel Z5xx Atom CPU and 12-inch display. The Inspiron Mini 12 includes a 60/80GB hard drive, 1GB of RAM, webcam, Bluetooth, 802.11b/g WiFi, and runs Ubuntu Linux, Windows Vista, or Windows XP, says Dell.

(Click here for a larger view of Dell's Inspiron Mini 12)

Dell's Inspiron Mini 12 appears to be the first “netbook” to reach market with a 12-inch display, though the company doesn't actually use that moniker. Instead, it merely calls the Inspiron Mini 12 — which bridges the gap between smaller netbooks and conventional laptops — an “Internet companion.”

By whatever name, the device has a 12-inch screen with 1200 x 800 resolution. Rather than using Intel's 1.6GHz Atom N270 (“Diamondville”) processor, the usual netbook choice, the Inspiron Mini 12 employs the chipmaker's Z5xx Atom CPUs (“Silverthorne”), usually associated with smaller, lower-powered MIDs (mobile Internet devices).

Compared to the N270, which measures 22mm x 22mm, the Z5xx Atoms come in a 13mm x 13mm package. The Silverthorne parts also save a bit of power, given that the N270 has a rated TDP of 2.5 Watts, while the 1.33GHz Z520 and 1.6GHz Z530 processors chosen by Dell have TDPs of just two Watts.

Additionally, the N270 requires Intel's 945GSE chipset, which is rated for a six Watt TDP. In contrast, the Z520 and Z530 are designed to use Intel's “Poulsbo” SCH (system controller hub) US15W, rated for a TDP of just 2.5 Watts.

Inspiron Mini 9

A portable computer using Silverthorne should, therefore, run cooler and last longer on batteries. Of course, the most power-thirsty component of most systems is the display, and here the Mini 12 has a larger display, likely offsetting any processor power savings. Dell is claiming three hours of life with a standard three-cell battery, and six hours with an optional six-cell battery, roughly on par with its smaller-screen Mini 9. Announced last month, the Mini 9 (pictured at right) runs Ubuntu Linux or Windows XP, but forgoes Vista. The Linux version is equipped with a 8.9-inch, 1024 x 600 display, 1GB SDRAM, three USB ports, Ethernet, and a 4GB solid-state drive, says Dell.

The price of “sleek”

Despite its larger screen, the new Inspiron Mini 12 comes in a package that's light and very thin. The system is said to weigh just 2.72 pounds, including HDD, and to have a 11.77 x 9.02 inch footprint. Thickness ranges from 0.92 to 1.09 inches.

Purchasers do pay one price for sleekness that goes beyond the system's cost: namely, the SCH US15W doesn't support memory expansion beyond the 1GB of RAM the Inspiron Mini 12 comes with. Mass storage is up to the netbook mark, however, with 60GB or 80GB 4,200rpm HDDs. The drives are reportedly 1.8-inch devices from Samsung that measure just 5mm high.

Other ingredients of the Inspiron Mini 12 include three USB ports, microphone and speaker sockets, a webcam, and a VGA port. The device also includes a slot that accepts SD/MMC memory cards.

Though Dell did not announce any internal expansion for the device, the Australian website obtained an Inspiron Mini 12, and cites a SIM card plus two PCI Mini Card slots. One of the Mini Card slots is occupied by a 802.11b/g WiFi card, while the other will reportedly house an optional 3G HSDPA (high speed downlink packet access) modem. reports finding help files on the device identifying the cellular modem as a “Dell Wireless 5330,” said to include a GPS receiver along with 7.2Mbps downlink and 2.0Mbs uplink on the 2.1GHz, 1.9GHz and 850MHz bands.

Separately, however, Dell product manager John New reportedly told Laptop magazine that the initially shipping Inspiron Mini 12 will not have an internal antenna to support cellular use. Dell PR representative Anne Camden added on a company blog that while the device is not “mobile broadband ready” today, “we are working as quickly as possible to make that happen, but it's like herding cats, involving extensive testing and qualification by several different folks including the FCC, the wireless carriers, and our own wireless and engineering teams.”

Features and specifications released by Dell for the Inspiron Mini 12 include:

  • Processor — Intel Atom Z520 (1.33GHz) or Z530 (1.6GHz)
  • Memory — 1GB of RAM (soldered-in, not expandable)
  • Display — 12.1 inch display with 1200 x 800 resolution
  • Camera — webcam (resolution unstated)
  • Storage — 60GB or 80GB hard disk drive
  • Networking — 10/100 Ethernet port
  • Wireless:
    • 802.11b/g
    • Bluetooth

  • Other I/O:
    • 1 x VGA port
    • Audio headphone out and mic in
    • 3 x USB

  • Expansion:
    • SD slot
    • 2 x PCI Mini card slots (one occupied by WiFi card)

  • Dimensions — 11.77 x 9.02 inch footprint, thickness ranging from 0.92 to 1.09 inches
  • Weight — 2.72 pounds

Further information

Dell says the Inspiron Mini 12 will ship initially with Windows Vista Home Basic, but will also be available with Windows XP and the company's own edition of Ubuntu Linux. The device will be available in Japan this week, while U.S. availability is expected by the end of November “with a starting price under $600,” the company adds.

For's article on the Dell Inspiron Mini 12, complete with detailed pictures, see the publication's website, here. To read Laptop's interview about the device with Dell product manager John New, see here.

For Anne Camden's Dell blog entry on the device, see here. Finally, for further coverage by our sister publication, see here.

This article was originally published on and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.

Comments are closed.