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Asus Zenbook UX21 Ultrabook

Ultrabook is a specification and trademarked[1] brand by Intel for a class of high-end subnotebooks which are designed to feature reduced bulk without compromising battery life. They use low-power Intel Core processors, solid-state drives, and unibody chassis to help meet these criteria.[2] Due to their limited size, Ultrabooks typically omit common laptop features such as optical disc drives and Ethernet ports.[3] Ultrabook is a portmanteau of words ultraportable and notebook.


In 2012, Intel Capital press officer Jordan Balk Schaer announced a new fund to support startups working on technologies in line with the company's concept for next generation notebooks.[4] The company set aside a $300 million fund to be spent over the next three to four years in areas related to Ultrabooks.[4] Intel announced the Ultrabook concept at Computex in 2011. The Ultrabook would be a thin (less than 0.8 inches thick[5]) notebook that utilized Intel processors, and would emphasize portability and a longer battery life than other laptops[4][5] By this marketing initiative and an associated $300 million fund, Intel hoped to influence the slumping PC market against rising competition from smartphones[6] and tablet computers,[7] which are typically powered by competing ARM-based processors.[8]

Acer Aspire S3 Ultrabook with SSD

The Ultrabook directly competes against other subnotebooks, including Apple’s MacBook Air, which has similar form specifications and is powered by Intel CPUs, but is not advertised under the Ultrabook brand.[9][10][11]

At the Intel Developer Forum in 2011, four Taiwan ODMs showed prototype Ultrabooks that used Intel's Ivy Bridge chips.[12] Intel plans to reduce power consumption of its chips for Ultrabooks, like Ivy Bridge processors, which will feature 17W default thermal design power.[13]

At a presentation at the Consumer Electronics Show, an Intel manager stated that market analysis revealed that screen size motivated some of the reluctance to switch to 13" Ultrabooks. As a result, Intel planned to ensure, through cooperation with manufacturers, a 14 or 15-inch screen on 50% of the 75 Ultrabook models that would likely come to market in 2012.[14][15]

IHS iSuppli had originally forecast that 22 million Ultrabooks would be shipped by the end of 2012, and 61 million would be shipped in 2013. By October 2012, IHS had revised its projections down significantly, to 10 million units sold in 2012 and 44 million for 2013.[16] The cheapest Ultrabooks started at $900 USD, instead of the more mainstream $600 USD (as of 2012), and most Ultrabooks retailed at well over $1000 USD which made them too expensive to be widely adopted.[17][18] In addition Intel's constant changing of Ultrabook specifications caused confusion among consumers; and this was compounded by OEMs that released slim/"sleek" or "Sleekbook" laptops (e.g. Hewlett-Packard Pavilion TouchSmart 15z-b000 Sleekbook, Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite) that are cheaper AMD-powered variants of their more expensive Intel-equipped Ultrabooks.[19][20] Overall there was the shift in the market away from PCs as a whole (including Ultrabooks) and towards smartphones and tablet computers (particularly the iPad) as the personal computing devices of choice.[6][6][21]

Intel banked on the release of Windows 8 as well as new form factors, such as "convertible" laptops with touchscreens and tablets with keyboard docks,[22] and features (accelerometers and gyroscopes for touchscreens, hand-gesture recognition) to build demand for Ultrabooks.[21] With the third generation Ultrabook specification, introduced in June 2013 alongside its new Haswell processor architecture, Intel also added the requirement for all future Ultrabooks to include touchscreens; the requirement is intended to prevent "game-playing" and market confusion from OEMs, who had offered low-end products with touchscreens but not Ultrabooks.[23]


Intel requires manufacturers to meet certain specifications in order to market a laptop as an Ultrabook.[24] These requirements change with each release of Intel's mobile platform.

Ultrabook specifications
Platform Huron River Chief River Shark Bay
Release date October 2011 June 2012 June 2013
Processor Sandy Bridge microarchitecture
Intel Core models
Ivy Bridge microarchitecture
Intel Core models
Haswell microarchitecture
SiP (11.5 or 15 W TDP)[25]
Height (maximum) 18 mm for 13.3" and smaller displays
21 mm for 14.0" and larger displays[26]
18 mm for 13.3" and smaller displays
21 mm for 14.0" and larger displays[26]
23 mm for convertible tablets
20 mm for 13.3" and smaller displays
23 mm for 14.0 and larger displays[27]
Battery life (minimum) 5 hours[28] 5 hours[citation needed] 6 hours HD video playback
9 hours Windows 8 idle[29]
Resume from hibernation (maximum) 7 seconds[28] 7 seconds[citation needed] 3 seconds [29]
Storage no requirements 80 MB/s transfer rate (minimum) 80 MB/s transfer rate (minimum)[30]
I/O no requirements USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt Intel Wireless Display[29]
voice command[30]
sensors/context aware (convertibles only)
Software and firmware Intel Management Engine 7.1 (or higher)
Intel Anti-Theft Technology[28]
Intel Identity Protection Technology[28]
Intel Management Engine 8.0 (or higher)
Intel Anti-Theft Technology
Intel Identity Protection Technology
Anti-virus, anti-malware
Intel Anti-Theft Technology
Intel Identity Protection Technology[29]

List of models[edit]


  1. ^ "Trademark and Patents - Ultrabook". United States Patent and Trademark Office. Retrieved January 30, 2013. 
  2. ^ Ultrabooks uncovered (blog), Intel, 2011-07-28, retrieved 2011-09-07 
  3. ^ Thin, metal Ultrabook laptops ready for takeoff, CNN, January 12, 2012 
  4. ^ a b c Merritt, Rick (August 10, 2011), "Intel Capital launches $300M ultrabook fund", EE Times, retrieved August 11, 2011 .
  5. ^ a b Burt, Jeffrey (September 20, 2011), "Intel Ultrabook Partners Look for Cut in Chip Prices", eWeek (report), retrieved September 28, 2011 .
  6. ^ a b c "The 8 biggest product flops of 2012", MarketWatch (slide show) .
  7. ^ "Intel Ultrabooks offer more choice, better value than MacBook Air or iPad", PC World .
  8. ^ Bright, Peter (2011-09-06), "Ultrabook: Intel's $300 million plan to beat Apple at its own game", Ars Technica, retrieved 2011-09-07 .
  9. ^ "Ultrabooks threaten MacBook Air", Gulf News .
  10. ^ "MacBook Air with MS Windows 7: the Ultrabook to rule them all" (review), The Verge, 2012-02-10 .
  11. ^ PC Mag 
  12. ^ Merritt, Rick (September 14, 2011), "Intel shows progress on ultrabook vision", EE Times, retrieved September 14, 2011 .
  13. ^ Hugosson, Jacob (September 12, 2011), Intel Ivy Bridge variable TDP detailed, NordicHardware, retrieved July 16, 2012 .
  14. ^ Intel: 75-plus Ultrabooks coming in 2012, 50 percent of them will have 14- and 15-inch screens, Engadget, 2012-1-9  Check date values in: |date= (help).
  15. ^ "CES: Intel's New Ultrabooks Line-Up" (video), Forbes (YouTube) .
  16. ^ "Ultrabook Sales Underwhelm Initially", Information week .
  17. ^ "Why Ultrabook Sales Have Flopped So Far". PCWorld. 12 July 2012. 
  18. ^ Ashraf Eassa (28 October 2013). "Intel’s Ultrabook: Right Idea, Wrong Price". fool.com. 
  19. ^ "The top ultrabook alternatives you should consider". ultrabookreview.com. 
  20. ^ Scott Stein (26 September 2013). "Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite review - CNET". CNET. CBS Interactive. 
  21. ^ a b "Remember ultrabooks? Yeah, no one else does either", News (CNet) . Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "autogenerated2" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  22. ^ Jaroslovsky, Rich (2013-1-6), MS Windows 8’s mutant spawn invade laptop market  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  23. ^ a b Cooper, Daniel (8 January 2013). "Kirk Skaugen reveals why Intel made touch mandatory for Haswell Ultrabooks". AOL. Retrieved 13 January 2013. 
  24. ^ Ultrabook Reviews, Ultrabook Reviews. "Ultrabook Reviews". Ultrabook Branding Requirements. Ultrabook Reviews. Retrieved 19 May 2012. 
  25. ^ Anton Shilov (10 November 2011). "Intel Readies Single-Chip Haswell Platform for Ultrabooks". X-bit labs. Retrieved 19 February 2012. 
  26. ^ a b Monica Chen; Steve Shen (5 August 2011). "Intel reportedly releasing reference BOM for ultrabooks". Digitimes. Retrieved 19 February 2012. 
  27. ^ "Ultrabook™ Vision Realized with New 2-in-1s Based on 4th Generation Intel® Core™ Processor Family" (PDF). Intel Corporation. 4 June 2013. Retrieved 27 November 2013. 
  28. ^ a b c d Cross, Jason (26 December 2011). "Ultrabooks: Laptops as Light as Air". PCWorld. Retrieved 19 February 2012. 
  29. ^ a b c d Cunningham, Andrew (3 June 2013). "The U is for Ultrabook: Intel’s low-power, dual-core Haswell CPUs unveiled". Ars Technica. Condé Nast. Retrieved 6 July 2013. 
  30. ^ a b Mujtaba, Hassan (11 September 2012). "Intel’s 4th Generation Haswell Ultrabook Details Revealed". WCCF. Retrieved 23 September 2012. 

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