SAN JOSE, Calif. – Still lacking a design win in a top tier tablet, Intel is taking another approach—pushing down the power and size of notebook computers. Meet the Ultrabook, a slim, low power laptop Intel will describe this week at the Computex trade show in Taiwan.
The Ultrabook is a work in progress. Early versions will arrive in cases just 20mm thick and price points under $1,000 using versions of Intel 32nm Sandy Bridge processor later this year. AsusTek will be among the companies to ship the systems with its UX21 debuting before the end of the year.
"We are very much aligned with Intel’s vision of the Ultrabook,” Jonney Shih, chairman of Asus will say in scripted comments at an Intel keynote at Computex. "Transforming the PC into an ultra thin, ultra responsive device will change the way people interact with their PC," Shih said.
The Sandy Bridge chips, shipping later this year, will be Intel's first to put an x86 and graphics core on the same die, sharing cache memory over a ring bus. Archrival Advanced Micro Devices is sampling similar parts.
Ultrathin, low power laptops running integrated processors have been around for years. Intel aims to push the envelope on the concept with new processors dedicated to such systems.
The move comes at a time when leading tablets such as the Apple iPad, Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab and RIM Playbook all have adopted ARM-based chips. Intel launched a new netbook and tablet division last year, but to date it has only garnered a handful of second tier tablet design wins.
The Ultrabook concept shows both Intel's frustration at falling behind market trends and gives a gutsy "bring it on" call to leading tablet makers. Recently, Intel refocused its road map toward mobile systems for both its Core and Atom chips in an effort to catch up.