What is Ultrabook?

An Ultrabook is a higher-end type of subnotebook defined by Intel. Intel has applied to register the name as a trademark. Ultrabooks are designed to feature reduced bulk without compromising performance and battery life. They use low-power Intel Core processors, solid-state drives, and unibody chassis to help meet these criteria. Due to their limited size, they typically omit common laptop features such as disc drives and ethernet ports.

In 2011, Intel Capital announced a new fund to support startups working on technologies in line with the company’s concept for next generation notebooks. The company set aside a $300 million fund to be spent over the next three to four years in areas related to Ultrabooks. Intel announced the Ultrabook concept at Computex in 2011. The Ultrabook would be a thin (less than 0.8 inches thick) notebook that utilized Intel processorsand could also incorporate tablet features such as a touch screen and long battery life.

By this marketing initiative and an associated $300 million fund, Intel hoped to influence the slumping PC market against rising competition from tablet computers such as the iPad, which are typically powered by competing ARM-based processors. The Ultrabook directly competes against Apple’s MacBook Air, which has similar form specifications and is powered by Intel CPUs, but runs Mac OS X (and is capable of running Microsoft Windows like the Ultrabooks).

At the Intel Developer Forum in 2011, four Taiwan ODMs showed prototype Ultrabooks that used Intel’s Ivy Bridge chips. Intel plans to improve power consumption of its chips for Ultrabooks, like Ivy Bridge processors, which will feature 17W default thermal design power.

At a presentation at the Consumer Electronics Show, an Intel manager stated that market analysis revealed that screen size motivated some of the reluctance to switch to 13″ Ultrabooks. As a result, Intel planned to ensure, through cooperation with manufacturers, a 14 or 15-inch screen on 50% of the 75 Ultrabook models that would likely come to market in 2012.

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