Intel Talks Ultrabooks, Tablets, Smartphones at Computex

The company expects more than 110 Ultrabook designs to hit the market in the next year, and announced 20 tablet design wins based on its upcoming "Clover Trail" Atom chips.

Intel officials are expanding the company€™s blitz into the mobile device space, saying there are more than 35 new Ultrabooks that will be available within 30 days and 110 more expected over the next year, and that there also are 20 tablet designs in the works based on the company€™s upcoming €œClover Trail€ Atom chip.

At the same time, Intel is pushing touch capabilities in Ultrabooks by entering into agreements to work with touch vendors Cando, HannsTouch, TPK and Wintek. In addition, company officials also are giving the industry a glimpse into what they expect in future Ultrabooks and other computing devices, including the ability to interact with users through sight, sound and touch.

Thomas Kilroy, senior vice president and general manager of Intel€™s Sales and Marketing Group, said during his keynote June 5 at the 2012 Computex show in Taipei, Taiwan, that the goal is to create an increasingly intuitive computing experience.

"Our life experiences are defined by our senses€”by what we see, hear and touch," Kilroy said, according to Intel. "These human senses are also at the foundation of Intel's vision for the Ultrabook to deliver a no-compromise, must-have computing experience.€

Intel€™s rollout this year of its third-generation Core Ivy Bridge processors was a key step in that direction, and the giant chip maker plans to continue expanding the ways users interact with their computers, he said.

"The innovation must continue as we move to touch-based Ultrabook convertible designs, and in the future aim to give them and other devices senses, making our interaction with them natural and intuitive," Kilroy said.

Intel, looking to expand its reach beyond its traditional PC and server chip businesses, is targeting the mobile device market€”including smartphones and tablets€”as a key growth area. The space currently is dominated by chips designed by ARM Holdings and manufactured by Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, Nvidia, Samsung and others.

However, with the rollout of the Ivy Bridge chips€”which offer better performance and significantly improved energy efficiency and graphics capabilities€”and the rapid development of the Atom system-on-a-chip (SoC) platform, Intel officials are looking to grab share from ARM.

Almost two dozen Ultrabooks€”run on Intel€™s 32-nanometer Sandy Bridge chips€”already have hit the market, though they€™re larger than what Intel is aiming for and only a handful break the $1,000 price barrier the chip maker has set for Ultrabooks. However, company officials are looking at the 22nm Ivy Bridge chips€”which feature such enhancements as Intel€™s 3D Tri-Gate transistor technology€”to rapidly grow the selection of Ultrabooks on the market and drive down costs.

The newer Ultrabooks will come with better battery life, the ability to come out of hibernation mode in less than seven seconds and a host of Intel technologies, including Smart Connect Technology, that will enable the systems to update email and social networks even while in sleep mode, and security offerings Intel Anti-Theft and Intel Identity Protection.

The goal of Ultrabooks is to offer users systems with the same productivity capabilities as traditional PCs and features found in tablets, such as long battery life and always-on connectivity. In addition, many will come with touch-screen capabilities, thanks in large part to the support of touch screens in Microsoft€™s upcoming Windows 8 operating system.

Intel officials see a big market for Ultrabook convertibles, which can switch between laptop and tablet modes. The agreements between Intel and the touch-screen vendors will help push Ultrabook adoption, according to Kilroy.

He said touch capabilities are only the start of creating a more natural interactive experience with computers. Getting other senses involved will follow. In January, Intel and Nuance, which makes its Dragon speech-recognition software, entered into an agreement to optimize the Dragon engine and speech technology for Ultrabooks, allowing users to do everything, from initiating voice over IP (VOIP) calls to updating their social network status using their voices.

During the show, Kilroy showed a system armed with Nuance€™s Dragon technology responding to a user€™s voice commands.

He also talked about Intel€™s growing efforts in the smartphone space. Already several Intel-based devices have hit the market, including Orange€™s San Diego Android-based smartphone, available in France and the United Kingdom; Lenovo€™s LePhone K800 being sold in China; and Lava International€™s XOLO X900, launched in India in April.

At the same time, Clover Trail, the upcoming 32nm version of Atom, is the basis for 20 tablet design wins, Kilroy said. The devices will support Windows 8, which is optimized for the tablet platform, he said.