Intel Describes First Generation of Ultrabooks

Intel-Based Ultrabooks Due Late in 2011

by Anton Shilov
08/03/2011 | 05:15 PM

Intel Corp. has revealed the first and preliminary details about so-called ultrabooks, notebooks in thin form-factor with remarkable performance and feature-set. The first generation of ultrabooks will hardly be as impressive as notebooks like Macbook Air or ThinkPad X1, but they will still be a step in the right direction.


"This new breed of devices will combine best in class performance, responsiveness and security in thin and light, elegant form-factors. Eventually you'll think of an Ultrabook as a tablet when you want it, a PC when you need it," said Becky Emmett, a spokeswoman with Intel.

Asus UX21, one of the first ultrabooks

Thin, Fast and Secure

The ultrabooks of late 2011 will be thinner than 22mm, which is not something extraordinary by today's standards, but many designs are projected to be much thinner than that, according to Intel. Naturally, thickness of products will depend on many factors, main of which will be material used to make their case. Naturally, devices made of steel, aluminum and other rugged materials will be more expensive than those made of plastic.

Intel expects ultrabooks to start up very quickly thanks to Rapid Start Technology which caches operating system's data as well as frequently used files onto solid-state storage device that is by definition faster than a traditional hard disk drive. Quite obviously, there will be ultra-books only with SSD, which will make them more expensive, but which will be lighter and will have longer battery life. In fact, instant wake up is one of the things that Intel strongly requires ultrabooks to feature.

Ultrabooks will offer 5 hours of battery life even in the sleekest form-factors with some systems delivering 8 hours or more for all-day usage, according to Intel.

The world's largest chipmaker also demands its partners to integrate advanced security technologies into ultra-books. In particular, BIOS/firmware should be enabled to expose hardware features for Intel Anti-Theft technology and Intel Identity Protection technology.

First Step in "Ultra" Direction

The first generation of ultrabooks is to be based on ultra low-power Intel Core i-series "Sandy Bridge" processors and will hardly match custom-made proof-of-concept models like Apple Macbook Air or Lenovo ThinkPad X1 in terms of minimal thickness and maximum performance, reliability, security and other features. But Intel admits, ultrabooks are not a new category of products, it is a multi-phase transformation of mainstream notebooks that will span to several years.

"This is an historic change that we believe will redefine the computing experience. We've been mapping out these changes over the past several months and they aren't trivial. They will impact the physical shape and capabilities of personal computing devices and require substantial changes to the way Intel and its partners design, produce and market devices and their components," added Ms. Emmett.

The second generation of  ultrabooks centers around the next generation Intel Ivy Bridge processors, smart visual performance, increased responsiveness, enhanced security as well as faster I/O such as USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt technologies. It is scheduled for availability in 2012. The third generation ultrabooks will feature microprocessors based on Haswell micro-architecture that will enable even lower-power chips and "insanely" sleek systems.