PCs have evolved many times over the years to fit the needs of the marketplace, and Ultrabooks are an example of Intel figuring out what people want and delivering it to them through OEM partners in attractive and affordable packages.
That’s the core message from a Wednesday keynote at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, in which Mooly Eden, vice president and general manager of Intel's PC Client group, delved into the capabilities of Intel's forthcoming Ivy Bridge processors and how they'll light up the coming wave of Ultrabooks.
Intel has shipped 75 million units of Sandy Bridge so far, and Ivy Bridge processors are coming to market "pretty soon," Eden said. Ivy Bridge's design features 1.48 billion transistors and uses Intel's 22nm process, and they're ideal for thinner form factor, higher performing computers with longer battery life and lower power consumption than today's machines, he said.
In Intel's "tick-tock" roadmap, in which tocks represent new architectures and ticks represent a compaction of them, Eden described Ivy Bridge is a "tick plus" that includes new capabilities. One of the biggest advances in Ivy Bridge is graphics, according to Eden.
Intel redesigned its graphics architecture in Ivy Bridge, improving things like geometry performance, shader array and pixel operations. "Those who were surprised by the performance of Sandy Bridge will be delighted by Ivy Bridge," Eden told IDF attendees.
Intel sees Ivy Bridge as the catalyst for the coming wave of Ultrabooks, and the processor has been designed to allow users to both consume content and create it, Eden said. Intel assigned teams of anthropologists and psychologists to figure out usage patterns and behavior, and Ultrabooks allow users to employ both the left and right sides of their brains, said Eden.
"We need to make sure we can create and express ourselves," Eden said. "Consumption devices are beautiful, but we're not only consumption animals -- we also like to create."
Eden gave a demo of a new Intel technology called Rapid Start that enabled an Acer Ultrabook to come out of hibernation in four seconds. Another new feature, Intel's Smart Connect technology, downloads e-mails and updates social networking feeds while the PC is in sleep mode.
Ultrabooks also come with strong security, both for the physical PC and for the data that resides on it. Todd Gebhart, vice president of consumer, mobile and small business products at McAfee, joined Eden onstage to discuss a forthcoming McAfee anti-theft technology for Ultrabooks.
If the PC is lost or stolen, the owner can remotely send a command that disables the machine. Ultrabook OEMs are planning to engrave the logo on the ultrabook cover to deter would-be thieves, Gebhart said.
Although it's unclear when Ivy Bridge Ultrabooks will hit store shelves, Acer, Toshiba and Lenovo unveiled Sandy Bridge-powered Ultrabooks earlier this month. Asus, LG and Samsung will have Ultrabooks on store shelves this holiday season, Eden said.
Eden offered a preview of coming Ivy Bridge powered Ultrabooks from ODMs, including 13.1-inch models from Compal Electronics, Foxxconn, Inventec and Quanta, and a 14.1-inch model from Pegatron.
"You will see many of these, more than you think, and lot of ODMs are cooperating and also offering more attractive price points," Eden said.