Intel Pushes Ultrabooks alternative to tablets

EETimes – Intel still lacks a design win in a top tier tablet. Intel is pushing down the power and size of notebook computers. Intel will describe Ultrabooks at the Computex conference in Taiwan.

The Ultrabook is a work in progress. Early versions will arrive in cases just 20mm thick and price points under $1,000 using versions of Intel 32nm Sandy Bridge processor later this year. AsusTek will be among the companies to ship the systems with its UX21 debuting before the end of the year.

ZDNet – The CEO of Asustek, Jonney Shih, came onstage to show one of the first ultrabooks. The Asus UX Series is an 11.6-inch laptop with an aluminum unibody design that measures only 0.67 inches at it thickest point but includes a second-generation Core processor.

Two new Intel features
1) Intel Smart Connect, lets your laptop receive system and application updates when it is in suspend. To do this, Smart Connect periodically wakes up your laptop, checks for updates and then puts it back to sleep.

2)Intel Rapid Start, uses a flash memory cache to store the system state so that it can recover from hibernation in about five to six seconds. This is useful because a system on standby only lasts about two to three days while one in hibernation has a battery life of 30 days,

Ultrabooks sounds a lot like the CULV laptops that Intel introduced in 2009 but flopped. This time Intel is promising that ultrabooks will be “no-compromise” notebooks thanks to its process technology. Maloney said that by the end of 2012 ultrabooks will account for 40 percent of all consumer laptops. But the real breakthrough, he said, will occur in 2013 with the release of Haswell, a new microarchitecture that will cut the thermal design point in half (from 35 watts to 15 watts) reinventing the laptop PC.

The Sandy Bridge chips, shipping later this year, will be Intel’s first to put an x86 and graphics core on the same die, sharing cache memory over a ring bus. Archrival Advanced Micro Devices is sampling similar parts.

Leading tablets such as the Apple iPad, Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab and RIM Playbook all have adopted ARM-based chips. Intel launched a new netbook and tablet division last year, but to date it has only garnered a handful of second tier tablet design wins.

Medfield is really Intel’s first Atom SoC platform that was “purpose-built” specifically for tablets and smartphones, Maloney said. Intel said that tablets based on Medfield will be less than 9mm thick and weigh less than 1.5 pounds. For comparison, Apple’s iPad 2 is 8.8mm thick and weighs 1.4 pounds

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