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.