Intel Redefines Ultrabook Category With New Touch, Security Features

Intel is ushering in a new era of Ultrabooks based on its third-generation Ivy Bridge Core processors, including those touting convertible form factors, touch capabilities and more robust security platforms.

Tom Kilroy, senior vice president and general manager of sales at Intel, said Tuesday during a keynote address at the Computex Tapei event that the next wave of Ultrabooks fueled by the chip maker’s Ivy Bridge processors will "raise the bar" compared to prior generations. The inclusion of Ivy Bridge alone, he said, will allow these next-gen, ultra-thin notebooks to deliver up to 20 percent better performance and up to 15 percent lower power consumption.

"Thank you to our partners here in Taiwan and the computing industry at-large for the unprecedented innovation to bring the Ultrabook to life in such a short time," Kilroy said. "But we're just getting started."

[Related: Intel To Push New Ultrabooks Toward Commercial Market ]

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Kilroy outlined a slew of new features OEMs must include in any Ivy Bridge-based PC they want to market as an Ultrabook. Intel’s Anti-Theft and Identity Protection technology, for instance, must be delivered out of the box, along with the company’s enterprise-focused vPro PC management system.

All next-generation Ultrabooks must also come equipped with USB 3.0 capabilities and Intel’s Thunderbolt input/output technology for faster content transfer and loading. Specifications surrounding battery life and thickness remain intact; all Ultrabooks must be less than 21 millimeters or 0.8 inches thick and deliver at least five hours of battery life.

Perhaps the most significant change delivered with Ivy Bridge-based Ultrabooks will be a more touch-capable and intuitive user experience.

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

The chip maker has struck new alliances with touch technology vendors Cando, HannsTouch, TPK and Wintek to arm its new wave of Ultrabooks -- and particularly those running on Microsoft’s new Windows 8 platform -- with multi-touch capabilities.

What’s more, many new Ultrabooks will come equipped with voice detection capabilities, allowing users to verbally command their devices to perform tasks such as opening a Web browser or even posting on Facebook.

NEXT: Convertible PCs, Tablets Also On Intel’s Horizon

In addition to their new "ultra-responsive" features and a longer list of technical specs, Ivy Bridge-based Ultrabooks will go through yet another transformation this year, Kilroy said. Many of them, he explained, will move away from the traditional clam-shell form factor in lieu of new convertible or hybrid designs. Several Taiwanese manufacturers are expected to lift the curtain on these new form factors this week at Computex, including Asus, who unveiled Monday its new Transformer Book convertible notebook running both Intel’s Ivy Bridge processor and Microsoft’s Windows 8.

Kilroy said that more than 35 new Ultrabook systems are available now or will be within 30 days, with over 110 designs expected in the next year.

"We’re a year later and we have 100 plus designs on the third-generation Core, and you are seeing an example of 50 behind me," Kilroy said, referencing a sprawling display of new Ultrabooks on stage with him at Computex. "The point is -- and you can see the headlines -- but every major ODM, OEM and every major retailer across the world is embracing the Ultrabook. There is tremendous momentum and excitement."

To grow its presence in the mobile market even further, Intel is also making a big push into the tablet space this year. Windows 8, Kilroy said, will fuel this development. "At Intel, we support Android, but primarily, on tablets, we are focused on Windows 8," he told the audience.

There have already been over 20 design wins for Windows 8 tablets running on Intel’s Atom system-on-a-chip, codenamed "Clover Trail," Kilroy said.