Monday, March 30, 2009

Intel Rumoured to Have Aggressive Plans for Low-Cost Ultra-Thin Notebooks

Intel Corp., the world’s largest maker of microprocessors, seems to have rather serious intentions for the market of consumer-oriented thin-and-light notebooks and will provide massive discounts on low-voltage Core 2 mobile processors to large suppliers of personal computers.

Intel reportedly plans to launch its Core 2 mobile processors in 22mm x 22mm packaging and with around 10W thermal design power on the 19th of April, 2009. According to a news-story by DigiTimes web-site, low-end Core 2 mobile processors for thin-and-light notebooks will cost about $152 in 1000-unit quantities, whereas higher-performance models will cost $315 - $342.

Nevertheless, the world’s top three notebook makers – Acer, Dell, and HP – will get huge discounts on microprocessors and will get the low-voltage chips starting at $65, meanwhile smaller vendors – Asustek Computer and Microstar International – will be able to buy such chips for $75, according the media report.

Intel Corp. released its code-named Montevina SFF platform for ultra-portable notebooks, such as Dell Adamo, Lenovo ThinkPad X300/X301, Voodoo Envy 133, with reduced packaging area back in 2008. Intel used advanced packaging technologies for Montevina SFF chips, which reduced the package area of Intel Penryn SFF processor, Cantiga GS GMCH as well ICH9M SFF chips to 1415mm², down more than 100% from, 3342mm², the package area of Montevina. It is expected that consumer-oriented ultra low voltage (CULV) platform will also feature chips with smaller packaging.

Advanced Micro Devices early in 2009 launched its code-named Yukon platform that employs AMD Athlon Neo microprocessors in smaller packaging as well as supporting core-logic set. The Yukon also enables smaller and thinner notebooks, but, unlike Montevina SFF, AMD’s platform is aimed at consumers in budget, a more than strange positioning. Considering the current economic climate, Intel decided to respond AMD with its own initiative that enables small notebooks for consumers.

Traditionally ultra low-voltage processors were used for ultra-portable notebooks aimed at business users who need long battery life amid sufficient performance and functionality. Many of such ultra-portable computers are state-of-the-art pieces of engineering and employ the latest technologies to provide excellent reliability, stability, battery life, security and other qualities that have tremendous value for those on the road.

The vast majority of consumers value performance and portability and consumer-oriented low-voltage notebook platforms provide neither: they will not be able to match typical notebooks in terms of performance and they will be considerably larger than netbooks based on Intel Atom. Moreover, since consumer-oriented platforms have to be affordable, system makers will not implement their state-of-the-art technologies, such as active hard disk drive protection, powerful yet light batteries and so on, to keep the costs down, which will make the notebooks somewhat less attractive in general.

Still, both AMD and Intel believe in the success of ultra-portable notebooks on the consumer markets and are ready to fight for it.

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