Intel hasn't made any secret of its plans to release ultra low-voltage chips for relatively inexpensive, ultra-thin consumer notebooks. In last week's earnings call, CEO Paul Otellini said the company looked forward to the "new consumer ultra low voltage products which will enable many new thing and light notebooks at very compelling price points." But Intel hasn't said exactly when these CULV processors will ship.
If MSI's product plans are any indication, it should be very soon. MSI has confirmed that the X-Slim X340, which the company claims will be the first notebook to use the CULV chip, will be available this month. The X340 is a 13-inch ultraportable will be based on a 1.4GHz Core 2 Solo SU3500 (Penryn) processor that draws a maximum of 5.5 watts. (Interestingly, Intel's product database lists the SU3500 as a launched product.)
I got a quick look at the CTIA Wireless earlier this month, and the design is compelling. It measures just 0.8 inches at its thickest point, and weighs 2.9 pounds with a four-cell battery. It will be interesting to see how much battery life MSI can squeeze out of the small battery using the CULV platform.
MSI says it plans to release additional X340 configurations based on additional Core 2 Solo and Celeron M CULV processors, as well as X-Slim series laptops based on different display sizes. Though the company hasn't announced pricing, many reports have put the X340 between $700 and $1,000 depending on the configuration (the list price for the SU3500 chip is $262). HP, Dell and Acer are also expected to release CULV-based ultraportables with displays up to 13.3 inches.
Intel's CULV processors are designed to compete directly with AMD's Athlon Neo, a single-core chip used in the new HP Pavilion dv2z. These systems will also offer a good alternative to netbooks, which cost a few hundred dollars less, but have smaller displays and less powerful Atom processors.