Intel Intros Mobile Processors For Ultralight Laptops

The low-power chips are targeted at the escalating consumer ultra-low voltage notebook market.
Intel on Monday introduced a new generation of low-power processors across its product line for ultra-thin laptops, the fastest growing category of the PC market.

The latest chips are all built on Intel's 32-nanometer manufacturing process and span its entire mobile product line from the low-end Celeron and Pentium brands to the higher-end Core models. The new products are targeted at ultra-low voltage notebooks that range from 0.8 of an inch to one inch thick and are one to two pounds lighter than traditional laptops. The thinner systems have screens from 10 inches to 13 inches.

Intel typically announces higher performance and lower power consumption with each new generation of chips and this latest release is no different. The chipmaker claims the 32-nm version of its consumer ultra-low voltage (CULV) products are "more than 32% smaller and deliver more than 32% better performance." In addition, power consumption is 15% less than the previous generation. Intel's mobile 5 Series chipset is designed for the new products.

Thin and light, or CULV, notebooks are expected to comprise the fastest growing PC category this year, according to iSuppli. Intel and computer makers introduced the category last year, in part as an alternative to lower performing and less expensive netbooks.

Netbooks were the fastest growing PC category last year. But with starting prices at less than $500, netbooks' success was a major contributor to the industry's thinner profit margins.

CULV laptops offer higher performance than netbooks and have a starting price of about $800. As the global economy emerges from the recession, businesses and consumers are expected to spend more on PCs, making CULV an attractive alternative to less expensive systems.

iSuppli predicts computer makers will ship nearly 14.5 million CULV laptops this year, a 93% increase from 2009. The systems are expected to lead the PC market in growth through 2014. By comparison, netbook shipments this year are expected to reach 34.5 million units, an increase of 30% from 2009.

Overall, laptop PC shipments will hit 209.5 million units this year, up 25.5% from last year, iSuppli predicted.

Intel says more than 40 new laptop designs using its latest chips will hit the market beginning in June. Computer makers expected to launch the new systems include Acer, Asus, Lenovo, and MSI.