Intel Unveils 'Ultrabook' Concept, Atom Mobile Roadmap

Intel this week introduced a new mobile PC form factor, the "Ultrabook," which the company said will offer best-in-class performance in an ultra-thin form factor.

Intel's Executive Vice President Sean Maloney used his keynote presentation at Computex, which is being held in Taiwan this week, to introduce the Ultrabook as well as discuss the company's Atom processor roadmap.

Maloney, who was just named by Intel to head that company's China operations, said that the Ultrabook development includes three phases.

The first phase is a new family of second-generation Intel Core processors, introduced this week, that will allow manufacturers and system builders to produce mobile PCs that are under 0.8-inches thick, with mainstream prices slated to start under $1,000, Maloney said. They are expected to be available late this year.

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Intel in the second phase will introduce the "Ivy Bridge" processor family, which is scheduled to be available in the first half of 2012. It will allow the building of more power-efficient laptops with improved visual performance, increased responsiveness, and enhanced security, Maloney said.

In the third phase, Intel in 2013 will unveil the “Haswell” platform, which is expected to cut the power consumption of microprocessors to about half of today's models, enabling mobile PCs to become even lighter and thinner, Maloney said.

The result, Maloney said, is a new class of mobile computers which combine the performance of traditional laptop PCs with many of the features available with tablet PCs.

Several ODMs (original design manufacturers) at Computex showed their initial versions of the Ultrabook including Asus, which unveiled its UX21.

Erik Stromquist, COO of CTL, a Portland, Ore.-based custom system builder, said from Computex that he has been seeing ODM system builders all over the conference showing their first versions of the Ultrabook.

"It’s awesome," Stromquist said. “We’re assessing it now. CTL is very excited about the Ultrabook concept demonstrated at Computex. In addition to sleek form factors, we are most impressed with the return to wake from sleep and hibernate.”

Maloney also used Computex to introduce details about upcoming generations of the Intel Atom mobile PC and smartphone processors.

The Atom processor is expected to move from the 32-nanometer manufacturing process through the 22-nm and then to the 14-nm process over the next three years, which Maloney said will outpace Moore's Law and result in lower power consumption and more powerful features for smartphones, tablet PCs, and netbooks.

Intel is currently preparing for the release of “Cedar Trail,” its first Atom-based netbook platform based on its 32-nm technology. "Cedar Trail" will enable such features as Rapid Start fast resume, Smart Connect for updating the systems even in the standby mode, and Wireless Display and PC Sync for updating and synchronizing documents and content across multiple devices, Maloney said. Intel expects devices based on "Cedar Trail" to have over 10 ours of active batter life and weeks of standby battery life.

Also new is "Medfield," Intel's first 32nm platform for smartphones and tablet PCs. Maloney showcased a "Medfield" device running Google Android 3.0 "Honeycomb," and said it will enable the development of sub-9-mm tablet PCs weighing under 1.5 pounds during the first half of next year.