Intel a month ago launched the first of its Ivy Bridge processors, quad-core chips aimed at the desktop market. Now the giant chip maker is unveiling a new batch of its third-generation Core processors, including several aimed at the Ultrabook space.
The new dual-core chips, announced May 31, include four tagged as Mobile Ultra processors that are designed for Ultrabooks, the extremely thin and light notebooks that Intel executives have championed for about a year. The systems are designed to offer the productivity capabilities of traditional laptops with many of the featuresincluding long battery life, instant-on and always-connected capabilities, and for some models touch-screensthat are found in the popular tablets.
Almost two dozen Ultrabooks already are on the market, powered by the Sandy Bridge Core processors that were released last year. However, Intel officials see the new crop of systems that are on the horizon and will be based on the Ivy Bridge chips as the ones that will get the market rolling.
Intel executives have said that there are more than 100 Ultrabook designs in the works based on Ivy Bridge, and analysts expect to see many of them on display at the upcoming Computex 2012 show starting June 5 in Taiwan.
Intel has set stringent requirements on what can be called an Ultrabook, from battery life of at least five hoursand Intel now is recommending eight hoursand a thickness of less than 0.8 inches to the inclusion of USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt I/O and Intel security technology. Intel is recommending that Ultrabooks include the companys Anti-Theft and Identity Protection technologies, all included in the Ivy Bridge chips. Anti-Theft is designed to make it impossible for people to use stolen or lost systems, while Identity Protection brings two-factor authentication to the devices.
Intel also is recommending Smart Connect Technology thats available in the Ivy Bridge chips. In a deal announced May 30, Intel said it is adding support for Devicescapes Curated Virtual Network (CVN), which offers connectivity to more than 7 million public WiFi hotspots. With CVN support, Ultrabooks and other devices that include Intels Smart Connect Technology will be able to automatically update contentincluding emails and other appseven while in sleep mode.
Price also is a key issue for Ultrabooks, which are designed to not only compete with other thin systems like Apples MacBook Air, but also the increasingly popular tablets.
Current Ultrabooks have price tags that range from about $800 to well over $1,000. However, Intel officials have said they expect to see prices drive down to under $700.
The four new Mobile Ultra chips are in the Core i5 and i7 families, and come with power envelopes of 17 watts, base speeds of between 1.7GHz and 2.0GHz, and Intels Turbo Boost technology. All are dual-core chips that can run up to four threads simultaneously.
In all, Intel rolled out 14 new Ivy Bridge chips, six of which can run in desktop PCs and the others aimed at mobile devices. While all are in the i5 and i7 families, other chips for the i3, Pentium and Celeron lines reportedly are due later this year.