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Intel's $300M fund focuses on next-gen notebooks

Posted: 12 Aug 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:notebooks? ARM-based? mobile systems?

Intel Capital has launched the Ultrabook Fund that focuses on helping startups working on technologies that are in line with Intel's concept for next-generation notebooks.

According to an Intel spokesperson, over the next three to four years, the company will be spending $300 million in several areas related to ultrabooks, specifically technologies that will enable thinner and smaller form factors, as well as enhance use experience, such as sensors and extended battery life.

The CPU giant is under pressure from a coming generation of ARM-based mobile systems in the works that will use Microsoft's Windows 8.

Last June, Intel first announced the concept for ultrabook at Computex in Taipe. The goal is a thin and light notebook that also has tablet features such as a touchscreen.

Intel's mobile devices plans
In his keynote speech at Computex, Intel's Sean Maloney detailed the company's mobile systems roadmap that includes the launching of "ultrabook," Intel's new category of mainstream thin and light mobile comptuers.
Learn more about ultrabooks and Intel's mobile device roadmap.

Ultrabook's competitors
"From what Intel said this will have the sveltness of a Macbook Air and be able to work as a tablet PCI think that's a winning combination," said Nathan Brookwood, principal of market watcher Insight64. Brookwood is a long time user of the Windows business tablets that preceded the Apple iPad but have not had as much market success.

"What's constrained the Microsoft Tablet PC software is it was designed to work with all existing Windows apps," said Brookwood. "If they create something more like an Android interface with buttons you can touch without needing a stylus that will be good," he said.

"I get very frustrated with some of the limitations of the [Android] Honeycomb tablets that I know would not be a problem with an x86 processor and Windows 7 or 8," he added.

The Taipei announcement about the ultrabook was no accident. Taiwan's notebook makers are working in tandem both on Intel ultrabooks and on ARM-based mobile systems.

Microsoft is expected to release versions of Windows 8 for Qualcomm's Snapdragon, Nvidia's Tegra and Texas Instrument's Omap processors. This marks the first time a major Windows release will run on non-x86 processors. Nvidia plans a whole new line of ARM-based CPUs roughly timed with the Windows 8 launch.

With the Ultrabook Fund "a company thinking about building some extensions of Windows 8 on ARM might instead focus on Windows 8 on x86 and minimize what they are doing on ARM," said Brookwood.

ARM Ltd. was not immediately available for comment on the Intel news.

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