Intel reportedly is refusing to cut CPU prices in half to help OEMs improve profitability from their ultrabooks, according to news reports. Instead, Intel is offering a 20 percent cut for top-tier system vendors.
The issue of
price for Intel's ultrabook concept is being raised again, this time in regard
to how much the chip maker is charging OEMs for its processors.
the Taiwan news site DigiTimes
, system makers asked
Intel to cut the price of its CPUs by half in hopes of giving them a better
chance to increase their profitability. Quoting "sources from notebook
players," the news report said Intel officials, who were worried about their
own profitability, refused, saying they would reduce the CPU cost by 20 percent
to top-tier notebook makers.
giant chip maker is risking scaring OEMs away from building ultrabooks, which
Intel introduced in May during the Computex 2011 show. Intel executives believe
that ultrabooks will become 40 percent of the notebook market by the end of
2012, competing with the likes of Apple's MacBook Air and other thin-and-light
The ultrabook idea
is one avenue Intel is using
to push its way into the mobility space, where smartphones and tablets are
primarily powered by non-x86 chips designed by ARM Holdings and manufactured by
vendors like Nvidia, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments. According to Intel's definition,
ultrabooks are very thin and light notebooks that are powered by Intel chips,
are less than 0.8 inches thick and come in at less than $1,000.
the performance of traditional laptops and features found in tablets, from
instant-on to, eventually, touch capabilities.
vendors-including Asus, Acer and Lenovo-already have promised ultrabooks this
year. However, other OEMs reportedly are taking a cautious approach and are
willing to see what happens with Asus' UX21-due out in September-before
committing to the form factor.
A concern has
been about the ability to bring the asking price of an ultrabook to less than
$1,000. Intel already has made several efforts to help OEMs start building
ultrabooks, from cash incentives to reference designs to a $300 million investment fund
. If DigiTimes'
sources are correct, all that might not be enough.
is seeing some concerns around its "Oak Trail" Atom platform for tablets, which
sells for about $95-about 40 percent of the tablet price.
"Even with a
70% to 80% discount, the platform is still far less attractive than Nvidia's
Tegra 2 at around US$20," DigiTimes wrote. "Although players such as Asustek
Computer and Acer have launched models with the platform for the enterprise
market, their machines' high prices still significantly limit their sales, the
At a 20
percent discount, ultrabook CPUs run as much as $317 for a Core i7-2677, down
to $250 for a Core i5-2557. Intel officials' concerns reportedly are that by
cutting the price of the CPUs in half, the company would have difficulty
maintaining gross margins around 60 percent and maintaining the pricing.
keeping the price of ultrabooks under $1,000 will be key, particularly given
that some MacBook Air systems go for $999. Beau Skonieczny, an analyst with
Technology Business Research, said in a July research note that the ultrabook's
future would be tied to pricing.
anticipates Ultrabooks will achieve about a 40 [percent] mix in the consumer
market by the end of 2012," Skonieczny wrote. "However, the success will be
dependent on a quick ramp of volume sales to translate to lower prices for