Intel reduces Core power for ultrabook launches
Unveils three new PC processors which spill into Atom's low power territory, ahead of new wave of netbooks in the fall
Published: 23 June, 2011
Intel is stepping up its attack on ARM's mobile devices stronghold with new low voltage models within its Core processor family. The chips are targeted at the new wave of low power, cloud-oriented netbooks, which Intel dubs 'ultrabooks', and show the giant deploying its main architecture against ARM-based rivals, not just Atom.
Ultrabooks have already been released by several PC makers, such as LG, Asus and Lenovo, and while they represent a redefined sector rather than a whole new opportunity, they could inject new life into the jaded netbook segment ' and they certainly prove an easier hunting ground for Intel, with its PC-based channels and partners, than phones or tablets. Ultrabooks promise to combine fully fledged PC performance, using the Sandy Bridge processor rather than Atom, with mobility and long battery life, plus width of under one-inch and price tags under $1,000.
However, there are compromises in this combination ' the three new Sandy Bridge models run at slower frequencies than their stablemates (though the Turbo Boost feature significantly increases their speed). But they have half the power consumption of the mainstream Sandy Bridges, at 17 watts compared to 35 watts. The three new processors are all dual-core, with the same on-die graphics, and comprise the 1.7GHz Core i5-2557M, 1.7GHz Core i7-2637M and 1.8GHz Core i7-2677M.
The first device to use the new chips is the Asus UX21, which will have an 11.6-inch display, a slim design measuring 0.7 inches, and a 64Gbytes or 128Gbytes solid state drive that can resume from sleep within a couple of seconds. It will reportedly ship in September. Also showing off ultrabooks at the recent Computex show in Taiwan, where Intel unveiled the concept, were Lenovo with the IdeaPad U300S and LG with the P220, both sporting 12.5-inch displays. Some expect the Apple MacBook Air, which has a similar design concept despite avoiding the new 'ultrabook' tag, to be upgraded soon to the new Core processors, from its current Core 2 Duo.
Next year Intel will release Ivy Bridge, its first 22nm processors, followed in early 2013 by Haswell, a new microarchitecture. These will bring down the power rating to 15 watts, introducing Atom-class battery life to the laptop segment, where Intel thinks 40% of models will be 'ultrabooks' by the end of 2012. However, the major challenge remains penetration of the non-PC mobile device categories, whether with Atom or Ivy Bridge.