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Intel goes ultra-mobile with its ultrabook invention

Computex 2011 Makes up a new notebook category
Tue May 31 2011, 12:17

INTEL HAS INVENTED a category of ultra-thin, affordable notebooks powered by its second generation Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge processors, as the firm looks to pull clear of its rivals and steal some of the thunder from ARM in the portable computing stakes.

Ultrabooks, as the chip giant calls them, are effectively very thin, lightweight notebooks such as the UX series from Asus which the Taiwanese firm announced yesterday.

Asus CEO Jonney Shih was even kind enough to join Intel's new president of China, Sean Maloney on stage during his keynote to show off the MacBook Air-lookalike device for anyone who'd missed it the day before.

Intel's plan is to make these devices as cheap as possible - under $1,000 - and as thin as possible - less than 0.8in thick - and Maloney promised the crowd that the first units will be hitting the shelves in time for Christmas.

They'll be powered initially by Sandy Bridge processors and then, in the early part of next year, Ivy Bridge, with Haswell chips to follow in 2013 with a target of reducing power consumption by half.

Whether notoriously power-hungry Intel chips can achieve such a feat remains to be seen, but the firm is sticking two fingers up at Moore's Law with an ambitious plan to evolve the Atom platform from the 32nm Sandy Bridge, via 22nm Ivy Bridge to 14nm Haswell, within just three years.

As if to prove just how small that actually is, Maloney was shrunk live on stage by Intel. Well, he walked through a door made of frosted glass and then appeared on the big screen next to a CGI image of a chip, but you get the idea.

Other innovations ultrabook users will be able to get their hands on are Rapid Start and Smart Connect, both of which are coming to Sandy Bridge soon.

Rapid Start is a super efficient hibernation mode that allows users to resume in just five seconds. It also requires no power to completely remember your device set-up, as Maloney demonstrated by taking out the battery while the ultrabook was still in hibernation mode.

Smart Connect, meanwhile, "wakes up the system periodically" while it is in hibernate mode to check for any updates, new emails and so on, thus saving the user time when they finally decide to resume work.

A good day for Intel at Computex then, but you could be forgiven for thinking that the chip giant's attempts to invent yet another laptop category are an admission of its failure thus far to gain traction in the tablet market, despite its protestations to the contrary. µ


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