Intel sees new netbook chip in fourth quarter

SAN FRANCISCO, May 19 (Reuters) - Intel Corp INTC.O said on Tuesday an even cheaper, more efficient version of its Atom chip used in most netbooks would ship in the fourth quarter, signaling the next stage in the development of the low-cost computers, which have become popular with consumers over the last year.

The semiconductor maker also said the open-source Linux-based operating system for netbooks it has supported since 2007, named Moblin, is now in beta testing.

Intel’s next-generation Atom platform -- code-named “Pine Trail” -- will have only two parts instead of three, and will have better battery life and performance than the current generation Atom, company executives said on a conference call.

More details on Atom and Moblin are expected at Taiwan’s Computex computer exhibition in June, they said.

The development of Moblin, now run by the Linux Foundation after Intel handed over control in April, is not designed to challenge Microsoft Corp's MSFT.O dominance in operating systems, Intel said.

“There are requests from our customers to be able to deploy alternative operating environments,” said Intel’s vice president of software and services, Doug Fisher, on the conference call. He added that Moblin is not meant to be compared with Microsoft’s offerings.

Most netbooks currently run Microsoft’s old Windows XP operating system and Microsoft has said its new Windows 7 system will also run on netbooks, after it was embarrassed to discover its current Vista system was too bulky to run on most netbooks.

Analysts say some netbooks run on Linux, but the market share is tiny. IDC analyst Bob O'Donnell forecasts less than 5 percent of netbooks will run on any Linux platform in 2009. Google Inc's GOOG.O Android operating system for mobile devices, which is also Linux-based, will likely show up on netbooks in the second half of 2009. according to analysts.

Intel stock was up 27 cents at $15.78 on the Nasdaq. (Reporting by Clare Baldwin; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)