Intel executives say the upcoming ultrabooks are the natural evolution of the PC industry, as consumers demand greater performance and energy efficiency.
SAN FRANCISCO -
Intel executives are aggressively pushing their ultrabook concept
as the next big
transformation in a PC industry that has experienced slowing sales but which
they say has a strong future.
officials understand that they will need buy-in from a myriad of industry
players, from OEMs and original design manufacturers (ODMs) to software
developers and-ultimately-users. To that end, the giant chip maker has made
ultrabooks a central theme at this year's Intel Developer Forum (IDF) here.
President and CEO Paul Otellini, during his Sept. 13 IDF keynote
, said that soon the
ultrabook "will become the new norm."
vice president and general manager of Intel's PC Client Group, continued the
drumbeat during his address Sept. 14, calling ultrabooks the third
transformative moment in the history of the PC, following the transition of
computers from business tools to personal devices in 1995, and the move from
desktops to notebooks with Intel's Centrino technology in 2003.
"So far ... the
response from the market [to ultrabooks] has been phenomenal," Eden said during
a question-and-answer session with journalists and analysts here after his
keynote. "It's an evolution we want to drive. A lot of innovation is needed,
but I think it is inevitable."
see ultrabooks as very thin-and-light notebooks that offer tablet-like
capabilities-long battery life, constant connection, instant-on and,
eventually, touch capabilities-with the advantages of traditional notebooks.
The first of the ultrabooks-from vendors like Asus, Acer, Lenovo and
Toshiba-will be based on the current 2nd
Generation Core "Sandy
Bridge" processors and are due out this fall.
will be with the next two iterations of Intel's chip technology-first, with
"Ivy Bridge" next year, and then "Haswell" in 2013-that the real benefits of
ultrabooks will play out, according to Eden. That will be when Intel makes
significant gains in performance, energy efficiency and security.
keynote, Eden outlined many new capabilities in power management and security
that will come along with the 22-nanometer Ivy Bridge chips-which will hold
1.48 billion transistors that are built from Intel's Tri-Gate architecture-including
Intel's identity protection and anti-theft technologies, which enable users to
safely conduct transactions online and to remotely kill or wipe clean a stolen
or lost system.
components will also have to improve to meet energy and performance demands, Eden
also introduced Panel Self-Refresh, a display technology that reduces the
number of screen refreshes when the ultrabook is idle. The technology will save
energy over current LVD panels, he said.
event, he also showed off some ODM prototype ultrabooks running on Ivy Bridge
chips, as well as one powered by a Haswell chip. He also touted the work Intel
and Microsoft have done together with the ultrabook concept. Microsoft's
upcoming Windows 8 will run on mobile devices like tablets, and officials for
both companies say it will work well with Intel-based systems.
will be the systems that fuel the future of the PC market, according to Eden.
Despite slowing sales numbers that caused IDC and Gartner to lower their 2011
forecasts, Eden was enthusiastic about the market, noting that vendors sell 1
million PCs every day and that there are more than 1.5 billion being used in
the world. He also noted the huge uptake in emerging markets.
Analysts at IDF
had a positive reaction to the ultrabook concept. Charles King, principal
analyst with Pund-IT Research, said ultrabooks are a natural evolution for
Intel, which for several years has been moving down this path of greater
performance and energy efficiency in smaller devices.
think the ultrabook strategy makes great sense," King said. "The remarkable
uptake of smart phones and tablets indicates a significant shift in user
behavior toward mobile computing. In other words, it's a market trend that
Intel can't afford to ignore."
Intel executives first talked about ultrabooks at Computex in May, a key issue
has been around pricing. Intel sees ultrabooks as being less than 0.8 inches thick
and priced at less than $1,000. Some OEMs reportedly have said it will be
difficult to bring in ultrabooks at that price, though Intel last month
introduced a $300 million fund
designed to help businesses
that are building hardware and software solutions for ultrabooks. In addition,
Intel has introduced a reference architecture to help OEMs and ODMs bring down
pressures will continue to be an issue, not just for Intel but also for their
vendor partners," King said. "One effect of the iPad has been to demonstrate to
consumers that $500 can buy them something pretty cool-a point reflected in the
inability of competitors to crack Apple's market dominance. Beating Apple will
require vendors to deliver something notably better or cheaper than the iPad.
If ultrabooks are exceptionally better, they could inspire consumers to dig
deeper in their pockets."
during his keynote that "the challenge ... is to bring the price down." Eden
would not talk about what he expected the final price to be, noting that that's
the OEM's job. However, Eden said he
you're going to be surprised at how affordable [ultrabooks] will be," he said.