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The Ultrabook spec defines three major responsiveness techniques, one of which -- Rapid Start -- is required to earn the Ultrabook imprimatur. Simply stated, Rapid Start requires that a system be operational (from sleep) within seven seconds of opening the lid. It also defines short parameters for boot-up time. Rapid Start defines a method of reserving a portion of the hard drive for caching operating system and application state information.
Intended mainly to speed up application launch times is Smart Response, which boosts performance by caching to SSD or an SSD-hybrid drive data between the system hard drive and its memory. Then there's Smart Connect, Intel's method of keeping Ultrabook devices always on and always connected.
Like a cell phone, Smart Connect allows apps to continue communicating with a network when the device appears to be turned off. When an Ultrabook device is in sleep or hibernate modes, Smart Connect keeps social messages messaging and Twitter feeds feeding. Intel calls this a stopgap until Windows 8 arrives; it works with any app, but the feature isn't supported by any currently released version of Windows.
Application distribution also will be a bit different. Since most Ultrabook devices will lack an optical drive, installations will consist almost entirely of online purchase and over-air downloads from sites such as Intel's app store, AppUp.com.
Intel employs some fairly clever security schemes that go far beyond simple name and password security. To protect user data and identity and minimize risk of theft and loss, Ultrabook devices include Intel security baked into the hardware.
Intel Identity Protection Technology, or IPT, increases one-factor (name and password) authentication to two-factor by introducing a onetime six-digit password that's unique to each device. Web sites that have been integrated with IPT will prompt visitors coming in with Ultrabook devices for the code.
Intel and industry analysts have tremendous expectations for Ultrabooks, which after the buzz at CES we'd say are well placed. Of the nearly 400 million computers Gartner expects to be sold in 2012, half of which will be laptops, Intel analysts have estimated that 20 percent to 40 percent of those will be Ultrabook devices. Even taking the 20 percent figure, that's about 40 million Ultrabook devices in its first full year of existence.
Systems built using the Ultrabook specification will provide users with all the speed, power and efficiency of Intel's second-generation Core i3, i5 and i7 processors and the 3-D graphics of Intel's integrated GPU, while giving solution providers an exciting new platform with a whole new set of capabilities to harness.
What's more, Ultrabook holds new potential for smartphone and tablet developers. With the addition of sensors to machines with lots of CPU, memory and graphics horsepower, mobile app developers who were once focused on apps for small-footprint devices without such resources will now have access to the CPU and graphics performance without losing sensory input, opening new customer and application prospects.
The combination of a powerful mobile application platform with touch navigation, instant-on responsiveness, always-on synchronization and other smartphone and tablet capabilities, plus the power and efficiency of Ivy Bridge, will give developers and solution providers a fast, secure and easily portable platform to take mobile computing far into the future.