Intel has big plans for Ultrabooks

Intel has big plans for Ultrabooks

Summary: Intel is banking on the Ultrabook to breathe new life into the PC, but what exactly makes a laptop an Ultrabook hasn't been clear. Now Intel is providing more details on how the Ultrabook will evolve.

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In an era of smartphones and tablets, Intel is banking on the Ultrabook to breathe new life into the PC. Intel execs have said this new class of powerful, affordable ultra-thin notebooks could represent as much as 40 percent of consumer laptops by the end of next year.

But what exactly makes the Ultrabook different from, say an Apple MacBook Air, hasn't been clear. Part of this is because the Ultrabook will take several years to fully evolve. The first Ultrabooks from the likes of Asus, HP, Lenovo and LG Electronics are due in time for the holidays. But from the start Intel has said that it will require several generations of new silicon, and hardware and software engineering, to realize the concept.

Now Intel is providing more details on how the Ultrabook will evolve. In a blog post this week, Becky Emmett, a media relations manager at Intel, wrote about the "substantial changes to the way Intel and its partners design, produce and market devices and their components" to enable the Ultrabook.

The first Ultrabooks, based on ultra-low voltage version of the second-generation Core processor (better-known as Sandy Bridge) will arrive in time of the holidays. The basic features of these Ultrabooks are already well-known:

  • Less than 0.8 inches thick
  • Fast start-up from hibernation with Intel's Rapid Start technology
  • Five to eight hours of battery life
  • Enhanced security features to secure laptops and prevent identity theft

The Asus UX21, an 11.6-inch laptop, is expected to be the first when it ships this fall, followed by the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s and LG P220. But lately there have been rumors that computer makers are having trouble putting these together for less than $1,000 so the ramp of these first-generation Ultrabook may be slower than anticipated.

The second wave of Ultrabooks, due in the first half of next year, will be based on Intel's first 22nm processors, known as Ivy Bridge. Intel claims these will have longer battery life, better performance, beefier security and high-speed data transfers with USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt, the I/O technology in several Apple Macs and the Sony VAIO Z Series.

Finally the third phase will be based on a new microarchitecture, Haswell, which Intel should release in 2014. With Haswell, Intel plans to change the basic design of its processors so that they use around half the power of today's CPUs. In other words, you'll get the performance (and price) of a mainstream processor combined with the battery life of today's low-voltage versions. They should also be able to fit into even thinner and lighter systems that require less cooling.

PCs are always getting thinner, lighter, faster and cheaper. Intel is promising something bigger here comparing the Ultrabook with major shifts of the past such as the introduction of the Pentium processor in 1995 and the Centrino mobile platform in 2003. Intel says that eventually he Ultrabook will become "a tablet when you want it, a PC when you need it." As someone who has spent a lot of time using convertible tablets, with mixed success, I can tell you that would be "an historic change" if Intel and the rest of the industry can pull it off.

See also:

Topics: Laptops, Hardware, Intel, Mobility, Processors, Tablets

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50 comments
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  • High margin CPUs

    Ultrabooks are probably a good idea, but my impression is that Intel is driven mostly by a desire to sell more high margin CPUs.

    $1000 is too high for a mass market product. There is a good chance AMD will be able to sell integrated CPU/GPU silicon to allow 11" to 13" AMD "ultrabooks" to sell for not much more than around $600, eventually dropping below $500.

    That would be sweet IMO.
    Economister
    • Asus said that they will cost over $1000 to as much as $1500

      @Economister WAY more than an Air...
      doctorSpoc
      • RE: Intel has big plans for Ultrabooks

        @doctorSpoc
        Well this is because Intel will not be as agressive as it could be with Ultrabooks. Otherwise Intel would push to get as lower prices as possible for the components required for the ultrabooks. This is what Apple does.
        timiteh
      • RE: Intel has big plans for Ultrabooks

        @doctorSpoc "...Haswell, which Intel should release in 2014." That's disapointing. A month ago it was supposed to be released early 2013. The big boost in perfor<a href="http://vb.maas1.com/">m</a>ance, usually comes with a new archi<a href="http://www.tran33m.com/vb/">t</a>ecture (like Haswell). I hope the increase in hardward performance from Ivy Bridge, will be enough to tide use through. It looks like summer '12 will be a good time to buy a Windows 8 / Ivy Bridge laptop.
        alasiri
    • RE: Intel has big plans for Ultrabooks

      Of course they're trying to sell high margin CPUs, they're mainly a CPU company. I certainly want one. They have a very good design, and superior hardware. So, they can provide good value, and make money at it. They are talking about a high performance computer (even compared to most desktops), in a small package, that has long battery life. I've got more than $1000 to pay for that. That's a much better value, for me, than a $600 tablet, with a cell phone CPU in it.
      MarvinDouma@...
    • INTEL HAS LOTS OF BRIBERY MONOPOLY MONEY TO MAKE THINGS HAPPEN

      @Economister

      Well, Intel made huge profits from locking manufacturers into its well-known bribe and threat monopolist strategy over the last decade (even paying Dell and HP billions of dollars to severely limit their use of AMD processors).

      So... Even if AMD could do a better, less-expensive job, we'll never see them!

      Did you hear how Intel was even bribing retailers like MediaMarkt not to sell AMD computers?
      RichardEich
    • RE: Intel has big plans for Ultrabooks

      @Economister

      In an era of smartphones and tablets, Intel is banking on the Ultrabook to breathe new life <strong><a href="http://learnviolinonlinehq.com/">learn violin online</a></strong> into the PC. Intel execs have said this new class of powerful, affordable ultra-thin notebooks could represent as much as 40 percent of consumer laptops by the end of next year.But what exactly makes the Ultrabook different from, say an Apple MacBook Air, hasn???t been clear. <strong><a href="http://glaucomaeyedrops.com/">glaucoma eyes drops</a></strong> Part of this is because the Ultrabook will take several years to fully evolve.

      Something just doesn't add up here. First they're saying they expect to see
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      these new laptops on 40% of the consumers desks, and in the next part you say that the technology will take years to fully develop. Did I miss something?
      obitwo
  • What about AMD notebooks?

    A low end AMD Llano shoved into the Samsung Chromebook body with a 64GB SSD and at a price of $700 would do well in the market. I hope the thermals will not cause problems. Battery life should be OK(4-5 hours) if I believe AMD's claims.

    A design win in my books.
    idiot101
    • Chromebook? You lost any credibility

      @idiot101 The moment you used the Chromebooks (expensive piece of krap) you lost any credibility. Then you use the $700 price and you made it worst.
      wackoae
      • RE: Intel has big plans for Ultrabooks

        @wackoae
        +1. Check his name.
        Ram U
      • RE: Intel has big plans for Ultrabooks

        @wackoae He said the body... aka the case/form factor, not the OS.
        jgm@...
    • Huh?

      Who would buy a 700$ computer that is (mostly) useless when offline?
      Michael Alan Goff
      • It is actually mostly useless

        @goff256 Online or offline, a Chromebook is mostly useless.
        wackoae
    • RE: Intel has big plans for Ultrabooks

      @idiot101 Whats AMD?
      Tommy S.
    • A perfect example .....

      @idiot101<br><br>of why this forum is losing its appeal. You post a fairly benign opinion and a bunch of ignorant and arrogant (the worst possible combination) know-it-alls jump all over you.<br><br>What is the matter with those guys!!!!!!!!!!!!
      Economister
      • RE: Intel has big plans for Ultrabooks

        @Economister

        Well put.
        josh92
    • TOO BAD INTEL HAS BEEN KNOWN TO BRIBE RETAILERS NOT TO SELL AMD STUFF

      @idiot101

      Read the post above... Intel has a well-known history of bribing and threatening manufacturers and retailers not to make or sell AMD-based products.

      For example, HP would even accept free processors offered by AMD for fear of exceeding the quota that Intel set on their use of non-Intel processors...

      It ain't legal, but who is trying to make Intel play by the rules?

      We'll see Intel stuff in stores, not AMD stuff.
      RichardEich
  • RE: Intel has big plans for Ultrabooks

    This is all very nice, but while the hardware rolls out in the near future, the OEMs have to choose the components that surround the cpu, Microsoft either has to prep Win7 for the hardware or we wait for Win8 to exploit all the advantages. And we have to wait for the software writers to rewrite their applications to utilize Win7/Win8 multi-core apis. I apologize for being the FUD Bud here, because I appreciate that at some point it will all be ticking like a Swiss, no, make that Swiss-adjacent, watch, still, we can't pretend it will be the first day for the first product. There will be some improvement in experience at the outset, just not as much as the processor specs promise.<br><br>Plus, it's cool of Intel to have a summer cheer team jam. "HP, HP, we yell it with glee. Other guys, oh no no, here's my man, Lenovo! You got the Deuce, You got some Faces, You're the Joker, We got the Asus. Yaaaaaaaaay!!!!!"<br><br>But, if user Bob buys an Apple MBA - and if the processors are any good, they will be used by Apple - Intel still smiles. Let me point out that Apple is not concerned when its computers come out at about the $1,000 price point. Apple also updates the os on two year cycles and is not at all shy about telling developers new way or highway. The upside of Draconian.<br><br>As I said, Intel smiles, perhaps nervously, though, because the trend lines are favoring those ARM tablets and smart phones.
    DannyO_0x98
  • RE: Intel has big plans for Ultrabooks

    ?a tablet when you want it, a PC when you need it" SOUNDS real good.
    m3kw9
    • The convertible of the PC world...

      Now, if they could make that "convertible" to also become a smartphone, they could sell trillions of them.
      adornoe