Dell thinks PCs based on Intel's Atom processors, already popular among consumers, could be the answer for cash-strapped businesses.

"We're exploring that, and there is some potential," said Steve Felice, president of Dell's small and medium business group.

Dell is already offering Atom-based computers to business in some markets. However, demand for Atom-based computers remains relatively small compared to demand for systems that use mainstream Intel processors, especially the low-end Celeron line, Felice said.

Atom-based laptops have been a rare bright spot for computer makers, which have taken a beating in recent months. However, popular laptops like Asus's Eee PC and Acer's Aspire One are primarily aimed at consumers, not at businesses.

Dell, which was late responding to demand for Atom-powered computers, eventually released its own Atom laptops for consumers, as well as the Vostro A100 desktop, a business PC that runs Ubuntu Linux and uses Intel's 1.6GHz Atom 230 processor.

While Intel executives frequently deride the inexpensive Atom processors for lacking the performance of their multi-core cousin, Dell's website for Middle East sales said the chip "delivers the performance required for basic office computing".