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AMD ‘Ultrathin’ Notebooks Will Undercut Intel Ultrabooks by £130

Jeffrey Burt is a senior editor for eWEEK and contributor to TechWeekEurope

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AMD is readying its upcoming “Trinity” platform for its light, ultrathin notebooks, reportedly costing less than Intel’s ultrabooks

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) officials reportedly are not ready to concede the super-thin notebook space to Intel despite the headlines garnered by the larger chip maker’s ultrabook strategy at the recent 2012 Consumer Electronics Show.

During the event, AMD officials outlined the company’s plans for its upcoming “Trinity” platform, which will include low-power mobile chips they said will offer the same performance and energy efficiency as Intel’s “Ivy Bridge” Core chips while beating the larger rival on pricing.

When talking about the burgeoning super thin and light notebook space, pricing is key.

If the price is right

Systems makers are embracing Intel’s ultrabook concept widely, which calls for very thin notebooks that include the capabilities of traditional notebooks but also offer features more common to the popular tablets, including long battery life, instant-on capabilities and constant Internet connections. The initiative, first introduced by Intel at the Computex show last year alongside AMD’s ultrathin announcement, also calls for prices of less than $1,000 (£652), enabling ultrabooks to compete more directly with tablets and Apple’s MacBook Air.

A few of the early ultrabooks introduced since the fall come in below $1,000 – with a low around $800 (£521)– but most are costlier, with some as high as $1,400 (£913). Analysts have argued that even with all the features ultrabooks will offer, price will determine how widely adopted they are.

AMD is reportedly expecting that thin and light laptops based on Trinity – which officials are calling “ultrathins” – will come in around $500 (£326), a few hundred dollars less than their ultrabook competitors. The lower prices will help AMD compete with Intel’s ultrabooks in the thin-and-light notebook space, according to company officials.  During CES, AMD had a number of these systems on display and officials said they expected the ultrathins to be released later this year.

The technology news site DigiTimes reported that AMD will launch the Trinity platform in June, with a pricing strategy that will be 10 to 20 percent lower than Intel’s upcoming Ivy Bridge chips, which the larger chip maker will launch in April. Intel officials expect Ivy Bridge to fuel a rapid OEM adoption of the ultrabook form factor, with more than 70 designs hitting the market this year.

By contrast, AMD is expected to see about 20 ultrathin designs based on Trinity, DigiTimes reported, pointing to Hewlett-Packard, Acer and Asus – all of whom already have introduced ultrabooks.

Some OEMs expect that, as the ultrabook market moves to Intel’s Ivy Bridge platform this year and “Haswell” chips in 2013, the prices for the systems will continue to fall. Acer President Jim Wong was quoted December as saying he expects that by 2013, ultrabook prices will have dropped to about $500, fuelled by the flood of systems hitting the market.

According to reports, AMD’s will offer the same performance as the company’s A-series “Llano” notebook accelerated processing units (APUs), but will consume 50 percent less power. Like all APUs, the 32-nanometer chips will offer the CPU and graphics technology integrated onto the same piece of silicon. They also will come in dual- and quad-core versions.