A concept chassis made of plastic could result in Ultrabooks that are as durable as current systems but cost significantly less, according to Intel officials.
For Intel, driving down the cost of
Ultrabooks is a key to driving adoption of the very thin and light notebooks.
Now officials with the giant chip
maker are saying they have created a concept chassis for Ultrabooks made of
plastic that could prove just as sturdy as the current machined aluminum and
die-cast metal used to make the systems, and at a fraction of the cost.
The new chassis could result in
lower-cost Ultrabooks in the near future and that systems built with the new
plastic chassis likely will hit the market next year after further refinements
in engineering and design, Intel officials said in a June 4 post on the
companys Chip Shot blog site
The plastic chassis could prove a
significant step for Intel in driving the adoption of Ultrabooks, a form factor
that the company introduced last year at the 2011 Computex show. The basic idea
behind Ultrabooks is to create systems that offer the same productivity
capabilities of traditional laptops along with featuresincluding long battery
life, instant-on and constant-connect capabilities, and touch-screensthat are
found in popular tablets.
Intel also has laid out certain
features systems must have to be considered Ultrabooks, including a price tag
of less than $1,000, to enable them to compete not only with tablets but also
with Apples popular MacBook Air. Analysts have said that price will continue
to be a key factor in driving adoption, and executives with rival Advanced
Micro Devices have said that with similar systems based on their
technologywhich they have dubbed ultrathinsprice will be a key
differentiator. AMD officials made that point last month, when they launched
their highly energy-efficient Trinity processors
Those chips will help power
ultrathins, which will be a little larger than Ultrabooks, but will also have
quad-core processors and price points of about $500. Currently, some Ultrabooks
have come in below $800, but many still cost more than $1,000.
Were taking a different tack from
Intel, Leslie Sobon, corporate vice president for desktop product line
management at AMD, told eWEEK
at the time of Trinitys launch. You
should not necessarily have to pay a premium for thinness.
Intel executives have said that
there are almost two dozen Ultrabooks on the market powered by Intels
32-nanometer Sandy Bridge chips, which were released last year. However, Intel
recently launched the first of its 22nm Ivy Bridge processors, which offer
better performance and significantly better power efficiency and should help
lower the costs of Ultrabooks. Company officials have said there are as many as
100 Ultrabook designs in the works, with many expected to be unveiled at
Computex in Taiwan this year, which begins June 5. Many also will be running
Microsofts upcoming Windows 8 operating system, which also will help drive
adoption, according to analysts.
Several vendors, including Acer and
Lenovo, already are touting new Ultrabooks that will be on display at Computex.
Lenovo reportedly is offering new IdeaPad U-series, including a 13-inch model
that starts at $749.
Intel executives have
aggressively pushed the Ultrabook idea, seeing it as a way to not only bolster
a somewhat stalled PC market but also as an avenue into the lucrative mobile
device market. Currently, most smartphones and tablets run on chips designed by
Intel last year established a $300
million fund for companies that make hardware and software for Ultrabooks, and
also is putting aside hundreds of millions of dollars for a massive advertising and marketing campaign
In addition, Intel continues to
support Ultrabooks through its technology, including new Ivy Bridge-based Mobile Ultra processors
, announced May 31
and aimed at Ultrabooks.
The new plastic chassis is the latest
Ultrabook effort by Intel. According to officials, the company used engineering
techniques found in the automotive and aerospace industries in creating the
chassis, and involved what they called structural reduction analysis to get
the needed added strength using existing plastics.
Intel officials said they will be
sharing the results of their work with Ultrabook ecosystem partners.