Intel Expects Six Ultrabooks By End Of Year

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Intel is setting out to do nothing less than remake the notebook category with its Ultrabook concept.

The chip maker has been slowly rolling out Ultrabook models for most of 2011, and the company believes the Ultrabook will eventually become the norm for a notebook, essentially supplanting the current laptop infrastructure. While Intel will not manufacture these devices itself, it has a long history of developing new product concepts to go along with its latest processors to help vendors develop their own devices.

Greg Welch, Intel’s OTG segment director, mobile client platforms, told TWICE at a recent press event, here, that this could happen within five years as the initial costly products come down in price to become competitive with the low- and midpriced laptops that are now on the market.

The first Ultrabooks are expected to be available for this holiday season. Intel has shown several models, with one by LG being singled out during the press briefing.

Welch expects about six models to be available this year worldwide. These will sell through retail and be for the consumer, not business buyer.

Initial price points will be in the $1,000 range, but Intel envisions this dropping as the law of supply and demand kicks in. Intel plans to boost adoption via a $300 million fund that will invest in third-party companies developing hardware and software around the Ultrabook concept.

Welch described the Ultrabook as the ultimate expression of what a laptop should be.

“The Ultrabook is in response to rising consumer expectations. There is no compromise in this experience,” he said.

The Ultrabook concept has been kicking around Intel’s inner circles for several years. The end result is a notebook that is less than 21mm thick, has a very fast boot time, features between five and eight hours of battery life, and incorporates anti-theft and identity-theft technology.

Many of these features are inspired by the success of tablet PCs. Welch said the Ultrabook wants to emulate the tablet experience, particularly the fast boot time.

“We can’t have 40 or 50 seconds to come out of hibernation. Right now we have it down to seven seconds, and expect to hit one second in a few years,” he said.

The Ultrabooks will form a distinct niche of the notebook segment, particularly from the ultra-portable models that are now available from most vendors. Welch said screen sizes will vary from 11 inches to 15 inches, and, as sales volumes increase, prices will drop to what consumers now pay for a midpriced laptop.

Intel sees the Ultrabooks coming onto the retail stage in two phases. The first phase kicked off in June when the company introduced its latest secondgeneration ultra-low-voltage Core processors. These will be used in the Ultrabooks that will hit stores later this year. Phase two will commence during 2012, when Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors will ship.

The Ivy Bridge-powered Ultrabooks will deliver better power efficiency, increased security and general responsiveness, the company said.

This is the point where Ultrabooks would start replacing the current crop of less-capable notebooks, Welch said. Certain specialized notebooks for gamers and graphics designers would remain on the market, he noted.


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