Intel redefines ultrabooks for the Ivy Bridge era

For its new family of Core i-series CPUs, Intel has updated the specs required to earn one of its official ultrabook stickers.

With the first ultrabook-friendly CPUs from Intel's third generation of Core i-series parts showing up (and being benchmarked), it may be time for a refresher course on what it means to be an ultrabook.

This trademarked Intel marketing term is generally taken to mean "a Windows laptop kind of like a MacBook Air." But, it's actually much broader than that, and we've seen ultrabooks that have 14-inch displays, non-SSD hard drives, and even discrete graphics.

The precise definition can be a bit slippery, and different standards apply to different screen sizes. With the launch of the new Ivy Bridge ultrabooks (which I'd call the third wave of ultrabooks), here's how Intel breaks down the required and recommended specs, as noted on the Technology@Intel company blog.

Thin designs

  • Ultrabook devices must be 18mm or less in thickness for systems with displays less than 14 inches, and 21mm or less for systems with displays 14 inches or more; some current systems are much thinner.

Responsive

  • All third-generation Intel Core ultrabook devices wake in a flash, going from a very deep sleep state (S4) to full use (keyboard interaction) in less than 7 seconds and wake from sleep mode even faster. Additionally, they must be responsive while active, meaning they will load and run favorite applications quickly.

Extended battery life

  • Ultrabook devices must offer at least 5 hours of battery life, with many meeting the recommended level of 8 hours plus in even the sleekest form factors.


Security enabled

  • Anti-Theft technology is a hardware-based technology that makes it possible to lock down an ultrabook system if it is lost or stolen, and helps secure sensitive information stored on the device's hard drive.
  • Ultrabook systems come enabled with Intel Identity Protection technology to provide a more secure online experience for activities like shopping, banking or gaming online. It uses chip-level authentication similar to hardware tokens and is widely regarded by security experts as a more secure approach than software-only authentication.


Fast I/O

  • Ultrabook devices based on third-generation Intel Core must have either USB 3 or Thunderbolt technology to enable incredibly fast transfer capabilities.

Processor

  • Powered by the Intel Core processor family for ultrabook.

Notable changes in the above from the previous ultrabook specs include the requirement that Intel's Anti-Theft and Identify Protection be built in, and a fast data port, either USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt.

We've tested one of Intel's new ultrabook-friendly Core i5 CPUs, and you can see our hands-on impressions and benchmark results here .

About the author

Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of laptops, desktops, and Windows tablets, while also writing about games, gadgets, and other topics. A former radio DJ and member of Mensa, he's written about music and technology for more than 15 years, appearing in publications including Spin, Blender, and Men's Journal.

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Show Comments Hide Comments