Intel details “revolutionary” Ultrabook technologies

Intel VP Mooly Eden has demonstrated a range of Ultrabook technologies that he promises will represent a “fundamental transformation of personal computing”.

The first Ultrabook designs look outwardly similar to existing ultraportable notebooks. But in his second-day keynote address at the Intel Developer Forum, Eden claimed that the technologies they brought together made them as revolutionary as the CD-ROM or the wireless chipset.

One key goal of Ultrabooks is to deliver long battery life, and Intel has taken several measures to help manufacturers achieve this. The processors used in Ultrabooks are low-voltage models with low clock speeds – but Eden was keen to point out that these were not simple CULV parts.

“This [processor] is an ultra low voltage 17W solution – but when we want to see an application, we need performance on demand,” he explained. Intel’s solution is to allow Ultrabook processors to use Turbo Boost to temporarily match the performance of full-power models when needed. “The responsiveness for the systems is going to be pretty much identical,” he promised.

Future developments promise to extend battery life further: though the first wave of Ultrabooks will use Sandy Bridge processors, next year will see a switch to the Ivy Bridge architecture, bringing more flexible power management. To illustrate his point, he demonstrated a selection of Ultrabooks built with pre-release Ivy Bridge technology – though sadly these weren’t made available for delegates to test drive.

And in 2013 the Haswell platform is expected to deliver further advances in battery life. “Haswell will complete the Ultrabook revolution,” Eden predicted.

Intel showed a range of Ultrabooks built – reportedly – on Ivy Bridge hardware, though delegates were forbidden to test or ev

Eden also demonstrated a new screen technology, dubbed Panel Self Refresh, which offloads the display buffer to the LCD – allowing the GPU to go completely to sleep whenever the display is static. An Intel engineer claimed that this alone could extend battery life by up to an hour. “I’ve got confidence that in two years this will be the new standard,” declared Eden.

Security features

All Ultrabooks will also feature a range of security features to protect users from both physical loss and cybercrime.

One system, currently under development by Intel-owned security firm McAfee, will allow users to remotely lock their Ultrabooks should they be lost or stolen, making them worthless to thieves. Eden predicted that some manufacturers “will have the technology engraved into the PC, so people will know it does not make sense to steal this PC”.

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