Intel is getting ready for a flood of new Ultrabook designs that will not only offer new form factorsincluding hybrids that can switch between laptops and tabletsbut also will continue driving down the price of the systems, with some coming in as low as $699.
In addition, many of the new Ultrabookscompany executives are predicting as many as 75 new designs over the next few monthsreportedly should hit the market in time for the all-important back-to-school buying season, according to Intel executives.
Intel executives have been talking about Ultrabooks since May 2011, detailing very thin and light notebooks that offer the same experience as traditional laptops with featuressuch as always-on capabilities, long battery life and, eventually, touch-screensthat tablets currently offer. The devices are seen as a way for Intel, not only to give a jolt to the slowing PC marketplace, but also to give the giant chip maker another avenue into the booming mobile device space. Currently, most of the smartphones and tablets on the market run chips designed by ARM Holdings and made by the likes of Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, Samsung Electronics and Nvidia.
The first batch of Ultrabooks began showing up on store shelves late last year, made by Lenovo, Dell, Acer, Asus and others and powered by Intels current Sandy Bridge Core chips. Some were priced as low as $800, but most were more than $1,000.
Now, Intel is preparing to release its next-generation Ivy Bridge Core chips, which promise greater performance and power efficiency than the Sandy Bridge processors, and which Intel officials believe will kick off the new round of Ultrabook designs.
Speaking at the Intel Developer Forum show in China, Kirk Skaugen, general manager for Intels PC Client group, said the new systems will leverage Microsofts upcoming Windows 8 operating system and tablet features, including touch-screens.
"I think we can deliver the best of a tablet, and the best in what [users] know in a notebook," Skaugen told reporters at the show, according to IDG News.
Intel is throwing a lot of its money and marketing prowess behind the Ultrabook push. Last year, in order to encourage manufacturers to build the devices and to help drive down prices, Intel created a $300 million fund for companies making hardware and software for the form factor.
More recently, Intel officials announced April 4 that the company was kicking off a massive advertising and marketing campaign worth hundreds of millions of dollars that will include everything from television ads to interactive Websites. There also will be what the chip maker is calling Ultrabook experience zones in retail stores, where potential customers can clearly see the difference between Ultrabooks and traditional laptops.