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back to article Intel CEO Otellini promises $699 ultrabooks by fall

Despite relatively slow initial sales of the thin and light laptops that his company is making such a huge bet on, Intel headman Paul Otellini remains bullish on ultrabooks, and is confident that $699 versions of the svelte "reinvented PCs" will hit store shelves this fall. "Ultrabooks continue to build momentum, and achieved …

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Anonymous Coward

Can I just buy a $400 laptop with a SSD in it?

Intel is flogging ultrabooks because they use their high end Ivy Bridge processors. I, like almost everyone else, do not need any more CPU power. CPU is no where near the bottleneck. It is a rarity to see it jump over 10% for any reason. Slow spinning disk is the bottleneck. If they made skinny laptops with SSD but without the high end, unnecessary CPUs, then we would be talking (although I guess they have and call them tablets).

I know there are some people who will say, "but I edit 10,000 videos a day and am running financial models for the Fed on my laptop. I store on the range of 3 - 4 TBs on my laptop full of saved posts about how I need to have 3 - 4 TBs of storage on my laptop. I need the high end specs!" My answer is: use a server on the internet/company network. Servers are used for heavy processing and storing data. Client devices are there to show you what the server processed.

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Re: Can I just buy a $400 laptop with a SSD in it?

While intel CPUs are more expensive than AMD, the real cost is in a decent screen and battery which you won't get at $400.

The problem has been that we weren't getting it at $900-1100 either unless you got a mac, and even then...

I don't know about editing video, but I found I frequently maxed out my CPU not by stuff that I wanted to do, but with scan-on-access AV operations. Corporate ultrabooks running windows and AV might actually have performance issues, especially if you have file preview options that read the data.

I'm surprised that we haven't seen some file multi-data-stream innovation where a scanned file on a server is tagged with a corporate cert to say that it was scanned recently and clients with the same AV don't need to check it again.

On a slightly related note, there might be some room for innovation from the floss chaps here, where editing the metadata doesn't alter the file. The same idea could be used to allow people to change mp3 tags without creating a "new" file. I'm really tired of needing databases to store podcast data, for example. Couldn't we generalise something like an mp4 container and have a file system which can see the different streams, but when you copy the main "data" part of the file it copies the meta data too? Perhaps the problem is that it becomes a db in itself with all the related complexity and lack of robustness.

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Re: Can I just buy a $400 laptop with a SSD in it?

It doesn't make sense market-wise to push SSD in low-end laptops. The cost premium is still too great and too many of the shoppers in that price range don't appreciate the difference.

But it's pretty simple to just image copy the hard drive to an SSD, install the SSD, and use the hard drive in an external enclosure. On a laptop with USB 3.0 you'll get pretty good performance and lots of storage from the combination.

The big change will be when mSATA becomes a standard element in inexpensive laptops to allow for the OS to live on a small SSD while everything else resides on a platter drive. It will give a big performance boost for a large portion of usage without giving up storage capacity and minimizing added cost. Alternatively, the mSATA volume might be used solely as a cache for acceleration, ala Intel's SRT.

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Re: Can I just buy a $400 laptop with a SSD in it?

You can buy a $300 laptop and put a $100 ssd in it. Is that close enough?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Can I just buy a $400 laptop with a SSD in it?

Amen to this. Utterly ludicrous to pair a $300 CPU with a shit 1366x768 TN panel they're getting for <$50...

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Re: Can I just buy a $400 laptop with a SSD in it?

<< ..the real cost is in a decent screen and battery which you won't get at $400>>

The new iPad has very a high resolution screen that retails for 399. That Intel don't know how to do it, doesn't mean it can't be done. The challenge for Intel is that they don't own a client operating system so they face an additional cost there while Microsoft and Apple are in a position to give theirs away.

I agree with the AC. The challenge is not CPU but disk and screen - neither technology which Intel owns and so costs them more to source. I'd like a thin laptop with a retina display. I'd buy an iPad but it does not offer mouse support. You know, that legacy crap that people in the real world have to deal with. The new Macbook is just way to expensive.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Can I just buy a $400 laptop with a SSD in it?

I will even correct myself about the SSD in a $400 laptop. Actually, I don't need the SSD either as most of the stuff I store goes to some server. I can wait 2 seconds for a Word file or whatever to come off of SATA. Save your money on client side PCs and buy a better internet connection. Internet connection is the only thing that makes a big performance difference. Applications running on the PC, as opposed to a server, are dead or soon will be.

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Re: Can I just buy a $400 laptop with a SSD in it?

I can buy a 128GB SSD for $90 retail, versus $60 for the typical 320GB notebook hard drive.

128GB is big enough for my netbook/notebook/laptop needs, and a $30-$50 premium would be OK by me too. But I get to choose from dozens of me-too basic laptops in the $300-$400 range, and nobody is offering a basic model with 120GB SSD instead of a 320GB HD.

(I'm more interested in SSD for the robustness and improved power efficiency than the speed boost - that's just icing).

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Anonymous Coward

Now none of the ten people who want an ultra book will buy one until the fall

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The real kicker for Ivy Bridge is not the horsepower...

... it's the power!

It may be correct to assert that many existing platforms don't use the full amount of CPU that they have, but the key issue with Ivy Bridge is that they can do fun things with the power consumption, which translates directly to longer run times for a given battery.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The real kicker for Ivy Bridge is not the horsepower...

Ivy Bridge still sucks way more power than an ARM chip. Intel is trying to figure out a way to continue to sell higher and higher performance PC chips, which no one needs. They should focus on selling Xeon chips on the server side while the clients run ARM chips that have enough power to open a web browser and connect to the internet, because that is all the client side needs to do.

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price differential

All ultrabooks have to have some sort of flash, either a full blown SSD or a flash cache. Manufacturers are milking the idea of a price differential.

750GB 7200rpm drive will cost me £75

128GB SSD will cost me £90

256GB SSD will cost me £150

With the 750GB drive the manufacturer has to also include a small amount of flash to act as a cache. This means that a 128GB drive costs about the same and the 256GB drive is only £60 more. SSDs aren't a high end option any more they are simply a choice between speed and storage space.

The Sony Vaio Z is a prime example of this, if you want 8GB of RAM you have to get the 256GB SSD (I'm guessing Sony's Windows install is so bloated that the extra page file used for 8GB RAM consumes all the remaining space on a 128GB drive). The 256GB drive is an extra £400 on top of the 128GB.

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FAIL

"achieved our volume goals for the first half"

They set their sights low then don't they.

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Headmaster

"Intel CEO Otellini promises $699 ultrabooks by fall"

If true and they are decently specced (yes I am, amongst other things, looking at those screen resolutions - if we are still talking no genuine high res they can go screw) then Intel's hopes for a mass-market in this form factor may be fulfilled. I remain to be convinced, especially since I am still not sanguine as to whether or not Intel has finally got the memo about what they can rationally expect to be able to charge for their cpus.

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that'll be the 2012 MacBook Air then....

"What we're seeing is that in a time of tight consumer budgets, people buy quality," he said, "and they tend to buy the high end of the line – or reasonably high end of our product lines. You want something to last a few years, and that tends to give them a bit more assurance."

(see AnandTech review for further details)

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There is a way Intel could sell their expensive CPU's

The day my laptop arrived, i replaced the hard disk with a proper 72000rpm fluid dynamic bearing disk. Some kind person sat on my LCD, so i replaced the LCD. I have worn out the keyboard a couple of times, so I replaced that. When SSD's reached a reasonable price, I upgraded to that. The power cable wore out, and I replaced it. The track pad and the (rarely used) battery are still fine, but I can get replacements for those. The archaic CPU needs a big noisy fan, and I can replace... the entire laptop.

The only reason I would replace my entire laptop is if there is a standard for motherboards so I can upgrade the CPU/chipset just as easily as the disk, LCD, battery and so on. That is how Intel can sell more CPU's. The only interest I have in $699 ultrabooks in autumn is the possibility of $299 ultrabooks in winter.

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convertibles – machines with flippable displays

Excellent, I always thought that form factor needed more love. Saw one of HP's early models back in 2005 and was quite fascinated. The software support to make them worthwhile just wasn't there at the time though - now one could rig it to use Windows 7 in lappy mode and use Bluestacks android emulator for lovely goodies when the screen is flipped.

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Re: convertibles – machines with flippable displays

The problem with those reverse screens is they have never really sold in numbers even when compared to the anaemic Windows tablet sales, so you get a higher price due to the small production run. Then the twisting screen just adds more to the price and of course the base adds weight so it's not a good tablet. Really the worst of all worlds except for some niche markets.

At $699 retail it's hard to see where the money is. Well Intel and MS will make money, the component suppliers of course, but can anyone else? Id say not know, in a couple of years maybe but there will always be the problem that you can get a better tablet or conventional laptop. Hell just get a tablet and throw in a blue-tooth keyboard and/or a docking station.

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h3
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The only really high end laptop I have ever had was nothing but trouble. (HP 8710w / fairly decent core2 duo / quadro 3600M / 8GB ram / 17" Matte 1920x1200)

Probably wasted twice as much on keyboards and a new blueray drive than I would have buying a year or two old top qualiity thinkpad from tieroneonline.

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Won't apple just move the price down

just enough so the Intel offerings will no longer look attractive?

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Copyright Applause

I actually think this good, and it's nice to see the hardware manufacturers pushing rather than msft.

What we have here is a copyrighted design from Intel. If they can push the Utrabook brand some more it will simply make normal winPCs look clunky and fat. At the same time Intel will no doubt licence the Ultrabook name to the makers meaning that both sides should benefit in moving away from that race to the bottom. Agreed the price has been too high, but even if it's 1-200 more than a std laptop that would be a huge increase in margin.

All they need now is a different OS to further differentiate from widose and closer to Mac

I can think of a couple of nice distros for that...

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FAIL

Copyrighted Design?

Try "set of minimum specs and a trademark"

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Ultrabook?

What the hell is an ultrabook? Does anyone really know? The name has been out there for what, over a year now? Ask the average person on the street, and the best answer you might get would be 'some kind of skinny notebook computer.' The rest of the people will give you a blank look. Call these things something else now, because the name 'ultrabook' has failed.

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Re: Ultrabook?

I'm not sure if it has failed, mind you I'm not sure any have been released yet. I think we will see if it has any legs come Q4. Assuming those 100+ models don't turn out to be vapour-ware.

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Anonymous Coward

Otellini promises... and no one cares!

For $700 you can buy a quality laptop instead of a POS over hyped Ultrabrick.

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Microsoft Surface

Microsoft said that their Surface devices will be priced in line with comparable devices - will we see an Intel Powered Surface for $699?

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