Intel Shows Lightweight ‘Ultrabook’ Devices

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The new ‘Ultrabook’ ultra-light laptop is intended to compete with the tide of tablets and the MacBook Air

Intel has introduced a thin-and-light laptop form factor intended to fend off competition from the booming tablet sector, claiming the new “Ultrabook” category will make up 40 percent of the consumer laptop market by the end of 2012.

The introduction, at the Computex trade show on Tuesday, included a demonstration of the first Ultrabook, the Asus UX21 – an aluminium device weighing 1.1 kg and sporting a high-resolution 11.6-inch screen.

Technology shift

“Computing is taking many forms,” said Sean Maloney, the new chairman of Intel China, at the launch. “Technology innovation is a catalyst, and we believe the changes Intel is making to its roadmaps, together with strong industry collaboration, will bring about an exciting change in personal computing over the next few years.”

The UX21 includes a solid-state drive, giving it long battery life and nearly instant-on capability, according to Intel.

The device resembles Apple’s latest MacBook Air, introduced last October, which Apple touted as including tablet-like features.

Asus launched the netbook category in 2007 with the introduction of its Eee PC. Intel said Ultrabooks will not be as cheap as netbooks, but will aim for price of between $800 (£485) and $1,000 (£607). The MacBook Air costs more than $1,000.

Intel said the Ultrabook category will use the company’s second-generation Core processors, designed to conserve power for extended battery life.

Roadmap

By contrast, the current crop of tablets and smartphones rely heavily on chips using technology from Intel competitor ARM, based in the UK. Intel is targeting the tablet and smartphone market with the Atom processor, and at the conference showed 10 tablet models using the Atom processor Z670.

The first Ultrabook systems will be released later this year, ahead of the Christmas shopping season.

The Ultrabook rollout will be driven by the Core roadmap, including the upcoming launch of Ivy Bridge processors, followed by Haswell chips in 2013, Intel said.

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