Intel CEO: big future for 'CULV' laptops

Intel Chief Executive Paul Otellini said low-cost, ultrathin laptops with future Intel processors will be a big trend, a development that could upset the Netbook cart.

Intel Chief Executive Paul Otellini said low-cost, ultrathin laptops with future Intel processors will be a big trend, a development that could upset the Netbook cart.

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During Intel's first-quarter earnings conference call Monday afternoon, Otellini had a surprising amount to say about Intel's upcoming consumer ultra-low-voltage (CULV) processors, designed to fit into future ultrathin laptops that are expected to be priced significantly below $1,700-and-up luxury laptops such as the Apple MacBook Air and the recently-introduced Dell Adamo. The category of upcoming CULV-based laptops has been described by some observers as the MacBook Air for the masses.

CULV chips will be based on mainstream Intel chip designs, such as Intel's Core architecture, differentiating them from the lower-performance Atom processor, which powers low-cost Netbooks.

Otellini said in prepared remarks during the conference call that Intel "looks forward to the launch of our consumer ultra-low-voltage products, which will enable many new sleek thin-and-light notebooks at very compelling price points."

And later in the conference call, responding to an analyst's question, he said: "The big trend in notebooks this year, starting mid-year, is likely to be very well designed thin-and-light notebooks using the CULV or ultra-low-voltage products."

Otellini continued. "And I think you'll see those at very attractive price points. Up to this point in time, those machines have been sort of executive jewelry and I think they'll hit mainstream consumer price points."

He said that these notebooks will be different from Netbooks. "And we're expecting (there will be) a more clear distinguishing set of characteristics between Netbooks and notebooks," he said.

One issue likely to emerge is, why would anyone buy a $500 Netbook, like the HP Mini-Note 2140, if these more powerful, sleek laptops are available?

The Intel CEO also said that new versions of the Atom processor are coming and mentioned a dual-core version. Intel currently offers a dual-core 330 Atom model for Nettops--a low-cost desktop PC category--so this would presumably be in addition to this sole dual-core Atom offering.

Otellinli also said that the future Larrabee graphics processor shown at the Intel Developers Conference in Beijing last week was a "high-end version" and added that "there's obviously other versions that have far fewer cores for different price points. What you saw is the 'extreme' version, let me put it that way." Volume shipments of Larrabee are expected early next year, he said.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.


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