The more I test Intel Sandy-Bridge based systems the more I am becoming convinced that laptop silicon will eventually extend as a high-dynamic-range platform into to ultra-mobile PCs and tablets. The reason is that the new laptop platforms are using advanced processes and techniques and are extremely efficient at getting things done. ‘Hurry Up Get Idle’ is a simple concept that means if you can get the same job done quickly, you can turn off or idle a pc and thus reduce the power used. The area under the power curve is smaller.
In practice, its difficult to make HUGI work because a lot of the tasks we do are either very short, can only work as fast as a human can input or rely on data coming from other sources. PC’s aren’t very good at idling either but from my recent video editing tests, I can see that there’s at least one scenario where it works very well.
The problem with getting laptop silicon into a handheld product is the thermals. Intel leads the way in this market and their products provide plenty of thermal monitoring and control but it will take a little bit more than what is currently on offer to be able to easily design and produce a 7″, tablet running a laptop-style processor. It’s been done before though. Samsung, experts in electrical engineering, produced a 7″ Tablet running a 1.3Ghz Core Solo but that was at a time when there was no competition from ARM-based devices, $1200 tablets were common and there wasn’t an Atom processor around. The latest tablet example would be the Eee Slate EP121 and for a 1.06KG laptop, the Samsung 900X1A gets close but that’s a little larger and heavier than a handheld device should be.
As silicon processes get better though and thermal control, dedicated silicon and single-chip solutions become more common, you can expect both Intel and AMD to try to offer the ultimate processing power in the handheld space. You can expect these products to have premium prices and to be targeted at niche markets but with Windows 8 as a catalyst and competition increasing from the latest ARM designs, offering these niche product is one way that the X86 chip makers can retain an advantage and one way manufacturers can differentiate their products.
Thanks to Samsung Germany I am now using a rather swish and expensive Series 9 (Model 900X3A) 13″ laptop running the new Sandy Bridge ULV platform. This isn’t a UMPC of-course but it’s not here for ultra-mobile testing, it’s here for two other things. Firstly I want to use it for the next part of my Ultra Mobile Video Editing series and you’ll see that happen here are UMPCPortal. Secondly I want to start tracking the Ultrabook category very closely as I believe it is not only an important low-power platform for laptops but could, in a few generations, drive sub 1KG Windows devices that will range from sub 1W always-on, to 15W power-houses, exactly what I call High Dynamic Range Computing. They will challenge netbooks for size and power utilisation and include premium features like Wireless-Display, Light-Peek and security subsystems that can be used to stream and store high-value content. There will be a price premium of course but that should reduce to hit the top-end of the netbook range meaning Atom has a positioning job to do. You can follow my work with Ultrabooks over at Ultrabooknews.com
Thanks to over 500 people that stepped into the live Open Review of the Compaq Airlife 100 yesterday. We spent 2.5 hours going over the device and tested as much as we could. Thanks also to JKKMobile for joining-in via Skype and helping out. During the session we made three live recordings which are now available at Ustream. They’re relatively long but hopefully interesting to people looking towards the ‘smart’ devices sector. There’s a lot to learn from this ‘always-on’ device segment.
I’ve embedded part 1 of the session below and the links to the two extended segments are included below that. Check back on Carrypad tomorrow for a review article.
This Menq EasyPC E790 has no place in the western world apart from bubble-packs at point-of-sale in a garage or supermarket but think about places where the only screen in use is the QVGA one on a $30 Nokia phone. The ultra-cheap laptop has it’s place and I expect that MenQ will sell quite a few of these if the price really is $80.
Unfortunately you probably won’t see this for sale to that end-user because $80 is a 5000-unit price before taxes, shipping and handling.[More info] You’ll probably be looking at $120-150 for one of these in the shops. If that’s the case then I guess this becomes much less interesting because for a few dollars more, you can leave the ARM11, CE combination behind and go for something far more usable.
Sascha got to test on at the Netbook World Summit and here’s his video.