Intel Creates $300 Million Fund to Make Ultrabooks

There's a new segment of portable PCs coming soon, and they're called Ultrabooks. Intel took the wraps off of the design direction at Computex 2011 for exceptionally thin-and-light notebooks that take many design cues from Apple's MacBook Air.

Asus and Acer have already announced Ultrabook products, and there will be plenty more coming because Intel is pushing hard for the growth of this new segment that the chip giant believes will be 40 percent of the consumer laptop market segment by the end of 2012.

There was a concern that Ultrabooks won't be able to come in under the $1000 mark with compelling performance and features, but such worries will soon be put to rest. Intel today announced a $300 million "Ultrabook Fund" to help drive innovation in this new category of devices.

The Intel Capital Ultrabook Fund aims to invest in companies building hardware and software technologies focused on enhancing how people interact with Ultrabooks such as through sensors and touch, achieving all-day usage through longer battery life, enabling innovative physical designs and improved storage capacity. The overall goal of the fund, which will be invested over the next 3-4 years, is to create a "cycle of innovation and system capabilities."

“Celebrating 30 years of innovation, the PC is the ultimate Darwinian device and Intel is striving to again reinvent mobile computing,” said Mooly Eden, vice president and general manager of Intel’s PC Client Group. “In 2003, the combination of Intel’s Centrino technology with built-in Wi-Fi, paired with Intel Capital’s $300 million in venture investments and other industry enabling efforts, ushered in the shift from desktop PCs to anytime, anywhere mobile computing.  Our announcement today is about Intel mobilizing significant investments to achieve the next historic shift in computing.”

Intel detailed three key phases in the company’s strategy to accelerate its vision for this new category. The company’s efforts begin to unfold this year with Sandy Bridge processors, which paves the way for 0.8 inch (22 mm) thick notebooks at mainstream prices.

Systems based on these first-phase chips will be available for the 2011 winter holiday shopping season. There are reports that Intel has created reference Ultrabooks with a bill of materials that range from $475 to $710.

The second phase of Intel’s vision happens around the next generation Intel processor family codenamed “Ivy Bridge,” which is scheduled for availability in systems in the first half of 2012. Laptops based on “Ivy Bridge” will bring improved power efficiency, smart visual performance, increased responsiveness and enhanced security.

Intel’s planned 2013 products – codenamed “Haswell” – are the third step in the Ultrabooks progression and are expected to reduce power consumption to half of the “thermal design point” for today’s microprocessors.

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • -Fran-
    So, it's USD$300M now to tie customers to a platform and make even more money in the long run?

    Come on Intel, stop doing that. Just fight with free market.

  • CaedenV
    Ya, so intel invests $300M in other companies and takes a portion of the rights of all of their patents and work, and likely forces them into a contract to use only their processors for the next 5-10 years... Good investment, but lets not try to pass it off as charity.
  • chick0n
    It's going to end up on Apple's shelf. marketed as

    "We just invent another magical and revolutionary product, again"
  • chick0n
    innovation ? what did Intel invent for the past 30 yrs really.
  • oneblackened
    chick0ninnovation ? what did Intel invent for the past 30 yrs really.Let's see...
    Out of order processing
    The x86 architecture (x86 starts with the 286 - the more basic form of the 8086 was not fully developed x86)
    Unified L2$ on dual cores
    SMT (ie, hyper threading)

    It's not like those are important or anything.
  • To chick0n, invention and innovation comes in many shapes and forms. For starter, you can read this

    It helps to step out of the cave once in a while and look around.
  • mikenygmail
    Clearly, Intel is very worried about AMD's amazing new product, the APU which combines a CPU and GPU on one chip. Thanks to this technological breakthrough, gaming laptops are available for around $500-$600 that outperform and utterly destroy all competition anywhere near this price point.
  • mikenygmail
    For example Best Buy has an Asus K53TA-BBR6 laptop for $449.99 and free store pickup. It has an AMD Quad-Core A6-3400M APU and actually has a dedicated 1GB AMD Radeon 6650 graphics card, making it about as powerful as a superior laptop containing the more powerful A8 APU.
  • mikenygmail
    Now that was a very fast response, how much is Intel paying you? :)
  • Prince_Porter
    More importantly, was it chocolate or regular milk?

    In all seriousness, I don't see this "ultrabook" thing taking off. I think they're putting too much faith in the product. The pitch is weak, being thin and consuming less power isn't "innovation", it's expected for laptops as they grow. I think they'll sell fine as thin, powerful laptops, but trying to pass them off as a new product is just silly.