New form factor heralds impending ARM battle

Intel unveils the Ultrabook future of portable PCs

Intel has unveiled what the firm described as a new class of portable PCs based on the firm’s upcoming Ivy Bridge dubbed the ‘Ultrabook’.

Describing the ultrabook as a new category of mainstream thin and light mobile computers, Intel said that the firm is aiming to migrate 40 per cent of the market to the new form factor by the end of next year.

Intel vice president Sean Maloney used the opening keynote speech at Computex in Taipei to describe the new platform which he said would be categorised by notebook computers less than 20mm thick and with pricing under US$1,000.

"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," Maloney said.

Maloney said the so-called ultrabooks would appear in the winter holiday season and would include the Asus UX21. Asus chief Jonney Shih backed the Intel plan saying: "Our customers are demanding an uncompromised computing experience in a lightweight, highly portable design that responds to their needs quickly."

As expected Maloney also used the event to reveal more details of the firm’s upcoming technologies beginning with Ivy Bridge which will be a fabricating using a combination of cutting edge 22 nanometer manufacturing technology and the firm’s ‘breakthrough’ 3D tri-gate transistors and will appear in devices in early 2012.

Maloney described the last stage in the planned evolution of the ultrabook via the next generation ‘Haswell’ products due in 2013 would halve microprocessor power requirements over that of the current generation.

As expected Intel unveiled a raft of Cedar Trail Atom Z670-based tablet computers running Windows, Android and MeeGo operating systems. However the firm also revealed for the first time an Android Honeycomb tablet running on the smartphone-optimised "Medfield" processor.

With ARM recently claiming that the firm would capture over half of the mobile PC market by 2014, Intel used the ultrabook concept to prove the chipmaker is far from the point of surrender.

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