Intel also revises its Ultrabook requirements

Intel Corp. (INTC) beat its rivals to the 22 nm node in April, unveiling Ivy Bridge, the refined die-shrink of Sandy Bridge.  However, the launch failed to deliver a full-fledged lineup, offering up only quad-core chips.  And while these new chips delivered superb CPU performance, power efficiency, and much improved integrated GPU performance, they came at a high cost, commanding around $300 USD.

I. Eight New Dual-Core Laptop Chips; Seven New Desktop Quad-Cores; One New Desktop Dual-Core

Today Intel fleshed out that lineup with a second wave of chips -- 6 new quad- and dual-core desktop chips and 8 new quad- and dual-core laptop chips, including ultra-low voltage (ULV) designs.

New laptop chips:

(Standard; click to enlarge)
Intel Ivy Bridge Laptop Chips (standard)

(ULV; click to enlarge)
Intel Ivy Bridge Laptop Chips (ULV)

New desktop chips:

Ivy Bridge desktop chips

As you can see, Intel is being a bit secretive on the pricing for the laptop chips, but the cheapest chips are priced at $225.  TDP is 35 watts for all the standard laptop chips and 17 watts for all the ULV laptop chips.  Clock speeds range from 1.7 (2.4 GHz turbo) and 2.0 (3.0 GHz turbo) for the ULV laptop chips; speeds are 2.6 (3.1 turbo) to 2.9 (3.4 turbo) GHz for the standard laptop chips.

The desktop chips start at $184 USD and go up to $205 USD.  TDP for the desktop chips ranges from 35-77W, while clock speeds vary from 2.9 (3.5 turbo) and 3.4 (3.8 turbo) GHz.  The GPU is nearly twice as fast (650 MHz v. 350 MHz) for the desktop chips, compared to the laptop chips.  However some of the desktop chips have a more pared down Intel HD Graphics 2500 chip, versus the the HD 4000 found in all the laptops and in the rest of the desktops.

While all the laptop chips are dual-core models, only one desktop chip is dual-core (Core i5-3470T).  There are no single-core laptop chips yet, but the dual-core models can operate in a single core mode.

II. A Look at Intel's Strategy

Overall a big point of this launch is to bring down the price point of Ivy Bridge "Ultrabook" (ultrathin) laptops, which is currently quite high.  Currently, most Ivy Bridge laptops are generally $1,000 USD and up.  With the new cheaper dual-core chips we may see more $900 USD Ivy Bridge Ultrabooks and even some $800 USD models.

Despite the lower price, Intel's model remains largely unchanged -- Intel is reserving Sandy Bridge for its fight with rival Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD) in the high-volume $600 USD and below ultrathin segment, while targeting Ivy Bridge at premium laptops, a market AMD has largely surrendered due to its lower volume.  Between the chip and chipset, Ivy Bridge laptops are still too expensive to break into the budget price range -- perhaps only thing holding back the potential of this high-performing line.
Spectre XT black
Ivy Bridge Ultrabooks remain at "premium" prices. [Image Source: HP]

In terms of Ultrabooks Intel also announced an important change to its specification.  As some know, Ultrabook is a term Intel invented to describe high-performance ultrathins and laptop manufacturers have to be certified by Intel to call their products by that trademarked device name.

The new specs add three mandatory requirements:
  • Responsive while active, meaning they will load and run favorite applications quickly
  • USB 3.0 or ThunderBolt support
  • Come enabled with... Intel Identity Protection and Intel Anti-Theft (certain countries are exempt)
There's also an optional new addition to the specification to add touchscreens, WiDi, Smart Connect, GPS, accelerometers, proximity sensors, and ambient light sensors.

Expect Intel's new chips to quickly saturate the world of high performance enthusiast laptops.  But Intel's task is far from over.  It must try to race to scale Ivy Bridge to lower price points in order to hold off AMD and ARM Holdings plc (LON:ARM) chipmakers this fall in the budget market, as the stopgap Sandy Bridge budget ultrathins are unlikely to be sufficient.

Source: Engadget

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