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back to article Intel plans massive push around touchy-feely Ultrabooks

Intel is planning its biggest marketing campaign since the launch of Centrino in 2003 in an attempt to make Ultrabook laptops and tablet-hybrids more attractive to buyers. Speaking at Intel's investor briefing day, Kirk Skaugen, Chipzilla's recent replacement to head its PC Client group, promised 110 reference designs for …

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I'll believe it when I see it

I run my life off an 11" MacBook Air, so more competition in this market can only be good. When you hold one and realise it feels like an A4 folder not a computer it all makes sense.

But Intel and the manufacturers have bungled it here-too much copying of Apple (first the MBAs, now the iPad) and not enough innovation. Where's the power adapter common to all Ultrabooks as a requirement to use the trademark? The laptop without an island keyboard to make it easier for the slow-to-adapt? Why can't they have Thunderbolt as a requirement to kickstart a connectivity system which would work very, very well with these SSD-only, small-display laptops? And what are the bets that Apple gets a little bit annoyed by Intel parking its tanks on their lawn and switches to AMD?

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Boffin

Re: I'll believe it when I see it

In what way are restrictive requirements going to foster innovation? You've been drinking the Kool-aid a bit too long, I fear.

GJC

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'll believe it when I see it

@Mending. Some good points though expect Intel was already pushing OEMs as far as they felt they could. However your comment reflects the history of the PC as spun by Apple marketing rather than the reality of the PC story. Intel developed the low power x86 chips that enable lightweight laptops and its not their fault only Apple took up the design to begin with. They also invented Thunderbolt.

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Re: I'll believe it when I see it

I'm well aware of this. The Ultrabook initiative is good for competition and consumers, but let's face it, it's Intel getting worried that they depend too strongly on Apple as a component buyer and trying to open up the ultralight laptop market.

As for Thunderbolt-it would help them so much to create an infrastructure for a format that's failing badly. It offers small laptops high-performance access to hubs, external screens, desktop hard drives and everything else in just one cable connection-perfect for docking stations for small laptops with a tiny screen, an SSD and a weak keyboard. It offers so much, but the add-ons like docking stations and hubs aren't here yet-just a few designed for pro apple buyers.

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@Anon 08:28

Actually Apple had to ask Intel to create a new SKU for the original MacBook Air.

Intel didn't have mobile CPUs able to fit in such a small/thin laptop as the one Apple wanted to design, so Apple asked Intel to create a new version of the Core Duo that was 60% smaller than what was available on the market (the CPU die itself is the same size, but the package that actually sockets into a motherboard is typically much larger and thicker than the die to allow wider pin spacing and reduced mechanical stress)

After Apple's initial success with the Air, Intel started selling that special SKU that was originally Apple-only to other OEMs, and later started pushing the whole Ultrabook thing. I'm not saying you should give Apple credit for "innovation" for making a thinner laptop, but they did innovate by figuring out what was stopping them from building something smaller and thinner than anyone had previously, and went to Intel (and other parts makers, I believe) and got what they wanted. If Apple hadn't gone to Intel asking for this, there might still be something like "ultrabooks", since sacrificing performance for portability has become practical for more and more people for whom CPUs are already way more than fast enough (i.e., this wouldn't have worked 10 years, a CPU that could fit into such a small package would provide performance far too pathetic to drive Windows) But they might not be quite as thin as it isn't clear that Intel would have offered these smaller models of their existing CPUs without Apple originally requesting it....or they would have come along much later.

Point is, Apple took the risk in creating something when no one was sure it would be a popular product. All of the effort in designing and marketing the Air would been for naught had it been as poorly received as, say, the Mac Cube a decade earlier. PC OEMs like Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer, etc. operate on low margins and thus tend to play it very safe. New product ideas come from the risk takers, not just Apple but also the small botique PC makers. The big guys take ideas from them too, or in some cases just buy them out entirely (i.e. Dell buying Alienware)

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Open Letter

Dear Mr Intel

I would have already bought one of your ultratoys to replace my nasty Dell mini with its 600 vertical pixels, were it not for the fact that you hobble your customer's designs to something like 768 vertical pixels.

This is 2012, and I expect something better than the Hercules adaptor I had in my IBM-AT in 1985.

If your ultraslab has a screen resolution of 3000-odd by 1500-odd, I shall beat a path to the first person who tries to sell me one.

Oh, and yes. Mending is right. Some modern connectivity, and how about /built in/ wireless for an external optical disk, using some scheme that leaves the wifi and the bluetooth free. Ability to take phone calls. SD memory card slots (plural, note).

But most of all get us away from these miserable tv-based video standards to something more appropriate for computing.

Yours sincerely

someone who is going to pay for what I want, not what you want me to want.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Open Letter

Dear Robert

I understand your frustration. Intel engineers don't use those pesky 768 screens either but I'm afraid you overestimate the influence of Intel over the decisions of OEM customers.

'Ivy Bridge' adds improved integrated graphics, USB 3.0 etc. and there are considerable further improvements in the pipeline for 2013. Meanwhile the Ultrabook specifications are being extended but please note these are setting base levels, OEMs can go beyond 768 to 1080p and beyond for graphics if they choose to.

Some Intel initiatives take several years to come to fruition. The years it takes to bring a new processor architecture to production can be hard to comprehend by customers impatient for the next new thing.

Beyond semiconductors, initiatives like Intel development of slimline notebook designs based on x86 has taken years to make happen, with only one OEM customer, Apple, promoting this development in earnest to begin with. Hence the recent Ultrabook campaign. Likewise Intel Thunderbolt connectivity and the USB 3.0 standard have not taken off as quickly as would be desirable for more demanding users.

I suggest you make your opinions known to the laptop manufacturers who are in a position to do something about changes to their products.

Mr I

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Re: Open Letter

Dear Mr Intel

Oh really?

Tell you what, you want to call it "ultra" anything, I suggest you up the MINIMUM specs to something with more, well, 'Ultra' in it.

Robert Harvey

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Anonymous Coward

yay...

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Boffin

110 Reference Designs?

Err, Intel, I think you might have mis-understood the concept of a Reference Design, just a fucking tad....

GJC

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Re: 110 Reference Designs?

I think the message here is that Intel thinks they have to spell it out for the PC manufacturers, on account of the poor quality of their machines in recent times (as compared to, say, macbooks).

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Shorter refresh cycle

Having a shorter refresh cycle increases Intel's revenue, but only because it hurts mine.

My 2004 era laptop is working fine and has 1040 vertical pixels.

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Gimp

Yawn...

Haven't they heard of this thing they call the "NetBook"?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yawn...

Yes. Microsoft and the OEM's managed to kill them off as a viable option.

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Anonymous Coward

InHell has been trying to buy sales for six months

Not too many people are dumb enough to pay a high price for an underpowered notebook just because it has a shiny case. InHell keeps upping the bribe money to lower the retail price but few people want this crap.

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