The Intel Developer Forum is opening its doors this week but AMD is trying to rain on its rival's Ultrabook parade. Intel is expected to shine a spotlight on its next big platform at the event. But AMD is boasting about a new world record in a move to steal the show.
Intel seeks to give the Windows tablet and ultralight notebook market a push with its Ultrabook, a platform that combines performance with improved responsiveness and security in a thin form factor. It's Intel's answer to Apple's iPad and Mac Air of the post-PC era, and it's an important introduction for the chipmaker. Microsoft also has a stake in the game, since Ultrabooks are also one of the signature Windows 8 products.
Just how seriously is Intel taking its Ultrabook future? Seriously enough for Intel Capital to create a $300 million Ultrabook Fund to help accelerate what it is calling the next revolution of computing. The fund targets technologies that will help deliver new and enhanced user experiences, longer battery life and slim component and platform technologies.
Too Thin for Windows 8?
Acer was first to market with an Ultrabook, dubbed the Aspire. The 13-inch laptop is 13mm thick, weighs less than 2 pounds and offers seven hours of battery life. In order to qualify as an Ultrabook by Intel's definition, the mobile computers must be no more than 2.1 centimeters thick. But that could cause a problem with Windows 8.
"Intel's Ultrabook does create a little bit of conflict because Windows 8's signature feature is touch and Ultrabooks are not designed for touch. They are too thin," said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at Enderle Group. "It's an interesting dynamic because for a time you'll be picking between the very thinnest notebooks and those notebooks with touch, which will be slightly thicker."
"Ultrabooks are measured in the 2-pound range," Enderle said. "That makes them pretty light for touch unless you do something like a kickstand behind the screen, which most may not find to be an adequate solution."
The Ultrabook will eventually don Ivy Bridge, Intel's next-generation processor. The technology taps Intel's recently announced 3D transistor design called Tri-Gate. Future Ultrabooks will also sport USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt technologies. Thunderbolt is a recent fast-I/O innovation featured in the latest Apple computers.
AMD's Show Stealer
But AMD appears to be working overtime to steal Intel's thunder. AMD just announced it has secured the Guinness World Record for the "Highest Frequency of a Computer Processor," by overclocking the coming eight-core AMD FX desktop processor.
The AMD FX CPU, set to launch in the fourth quarter of 2011, achieved a top speed of 8.429 GHz, surpassing the previous record of 8.308 GHz. The record was set Aug. 31 in Austin, Texas, by "Team AMD FX," a group comprised of overclocking specialists working alongside AMD technologists, who also will be named in the Guinness World Records.
"There's a certain amount of drama going on between AMD and Intel. The old battles are dying hard," Enderle said. "That takes us back to the original days of the PC where both parties fought over who has the fastest part. AMD is claiming a world record victory before the show even opens."