Intel unveils ULV Core processors for ultra-portable laptops


Intel has announced a new Ultra Low Voltage (ULV) line of Core i3, i5 and i7 processors aimed at delivering notebook performance from devices with the size, weight and battery life of a netbook.

The chips are built using the chip giant's 32nm manufacturing process, and are part of the Westmere micro architecture, featuring Intel's new integrated graphics technology capable of HD video playback.

With the success of Apple's iPad making tablets an increasingly credible alternative to ultra-thin laptops and netbooks and challenging existing definitions of mobile computing, Intel claims the new range will deliver a performance boost of up to 32 per cent over their Core 2 Duo-based predecessors despite being 32 per cent smaller and consuming 15 per cent less power.

"Consumers crave laptops that offer style and performance, and the new 2010 Intel Core Ultra-Low Voltage processors for ultra-thin laptops delivers both, in one sleek design," Intel's PC client chief Mooly Eden said in a statement.

"Intel's leadership in 32nm high-k metal gate process technology, combined with breakthrough architecture and design, has enabled thinner, lighter and faster notebooks than previous models, with terrific battery life. Not only are laptops becoming ultraportable, but with the new processors inside, users will see faster response times and less waiting."

Intel says it expects the new chips to appear in more than 40 different notebooks at various price points, with Dell, Asus, Gateway, Lenovo, Acer and MSI among the manufacturers set to release systems based on the new silicon. The first is expected to arrive as soon as next month.

Despite conceding that the ultra-thin segment had grown slower than Intel had expected, Eden said researchers still expected it to account for 20 per cent of all computer sales by 2014.

ULV CPUs are a compromise. They offer reduced performance in exchange for better battery life. But, better battery life just might be worth it to most people.

Apple's recent MacBooks have succeeded in finding a way to get there in a thin design, and with recent Atom Netbooks and Apple's iPad offering increasingly better battery performance, we just might be starting to find hours spent away from a charger to be the most important stat of all.