In June, AMD will launch a new platform codenamed Ultrathin to compete against Intel-based Ultrabooks, according to an unconfirmed report in Taiwan's Digitimes. It claims that systems based on AMD's Trinity platform will have "an overall cost 10-20 percent lower than that from Intel", and that manufacturers such as Hewlett-Packard (HP), Acer and Asus could place orders.
The Digitimes story, AMD to launch ultrabook platform with lower cost, says there could be about 20 Ultrathin models this year, compared with about 75 Ultrabooks.
AMD is due to launch three Trinity chips this summer: a 100W chip for desktop PCs, a 35-45W chip for notebooks and a 17W low voltage chip for ultrathin machines. AMD also reckons that the 17W Trinity chip should perform as well as today's 35W A-Series Llano notebook processor.
While this may be true, AMD's "APUs" (which combine a CPU and GPU) do not have anything like the same mindshare as Intel's enormously successful Core iX range.
An AMD spokesman demonstrating the Trinity platform at CES 2012 used the words "ultrathin" and "ultrathin notebooks" several times. Spoiler: the demo shows a mainstream laptop running three screens (see reveal at 1'10" in the video below). However, the Ultrathin platform could still be launched under a different name.
Intel is hoping that Ultrabooks can take around 40 percent of the laptop PC market, and last May, Intel vice president Sean Maloney told me that Intel was committed to "lowering the price [of Ultrabooks] , not so much immediately, but over time."
AMD Ultrathin machines could undercut Intel Ultrabooks by $100 to $200, making them more attractive, but success is not assured. As I pointed out in an earlier post here (Can Ultrabooks push up laptop prices?), one of the reasons the latest MacBook Air has been relatively successful is that it's the cheapest MacBook users can buy. By contrast, Windows users buying Ultrabooks will see them as one of the most expensive options.
There are clearly some users who will pay two or three times the price of a mainstream Windows laptop in order to get a MacBook. How many Windows users will pay twice the price of a mainstream Windows 7 laptop for a very thin Windows 7 laptop is open to question.
AMD Trinity demo @ CES 2012