Intel to Aim for Inexpensive Ultraportables With New Chips

Intel may introduce ultra-low-voltage processors for inexpensive thin laptops later this year, which could help it compete with Advanced Micro Devices in the space.

The chips could go into thin laptops that provide full PC functionality but are cheaper than ultraportable laptops, which are priced above US$1,500. The chips could lead to new designs in the light and thin laptop category at more price points, a source familiar with Intel's plans said.

The chips could also help Intel compete with AMD, which recently launched the Athlon Neo chip for thin and small laptops priced between $500 and $1,500. Neo chips are designed for thin and light laptops with screens between 10 inches and 14 inches, which AMD categorizes as "ultrathin laptops."

Based on Intel's current Core microarchitecture, the new chips will fit into small spaces and use less power than existing Core 2 Duo chips. Current Core 2 Duo ULV chips use about 10 watts, and Core 2 Duo processors for mainstream laptops use as much as 35 watts.

Intel's most prominent Core-based ULV chips -- Core 2 Duo SU9400 and SU9300 -- are used in expensive ultraportable laptops such as Lenovo's X300 and Fujitsu's LifeBook P8020. Those laptops are known for their small form factor and good battery life. An Intel ULV chip also goes into the MacBook Air.

AMD has criticized the premium pricing of ultraportable notebooks that carry Intel's ULV chips. Users don't have an appetite for expensive ultraportables such as the MacBook Air, and pricing has been a key impediment to the adoption of such laptops, AMD has said. AMD launched the Neo processor to enable a new price point for thin and light laptops that provide full PC functionality.

Intel did not comment on whether it intended to compete with AMD in the ultrathin space.

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