Taking the new information into account I’ve updated the timeline for Ultrabook activities. If I get more information I’ll update again. Again, the timeline is my estimation based on information and experience and I’m publishing it to help those that are making plans to buy both 1st and 2nd-gen Ultrabooks in the Q3-Q4 2012 timeframe.
Computex, Taiwan, is one of the most important trade shows for the laptop market and this year it coincides with the availability of low-power Ivy Bridge CPUs for Ultrabooks so it makes sense that Intel and their customers seize the moment to launch the 2nd Generation of Ultrabooks.
In an article at Techworld.com, Scott Pendrey, desktop product manager at Intel, gives us the information that “the first ultrabooks featuring Ivy Bridge processors will come to market on 5 June, with more to follow throughout 2012.”
Up to now we’ve worked out that 2nd-gen Ultrabooks will be available from June (our estimate,) that there are 100 Ultrabooks launching this year (Intel quote) and that the prediction is for about 20 million shipments in 2012 (Juniper Research projection.) A brief update from Digitimes runs along the same lines but says it has the information from the supply chain.
We’ve been hearing about 23rd April availability of Ivy Bridge for a while now but what does that mean and what does it mean for Ultrabooks? What’s clear is that there’s still some time to go before anyone is able to buy a 2nd-gen Ultrabook. Our estimate for the earliest models is now mid-June.
There’s two things to consider. ‘Availability’ in this case means 1st shipping of the Ivy Bridge CPUs. Arrival at manufacturers production facilities comes some days after that and then manufacturers can ramp up their production lines for the first major run. Testing and shipping from the production facility and then testing by distributors and shelf availability will take 2-3 weeks after that, for the first-in-line and ready-to-go manufacturers. We’re estimating mid-May for the first Ivy Bridge laptops. But not Ultrabooks.
Update: Paul Otellini just announced “The first Ivy Bridge chips we’re shipping are quad cores” in the Intel earnings conference call this evening. (via)
We’re hearing that the 2-core, high-end processors used in Ultrabooks won’t start production until mid-May which means you won’t see the first Ultrabooks in the hands until mid-June. At that point availability will still be limited and we expect only one or two manufacturers to be able to hit that availability date. After that, other manufacturer products will start to roll in. Here’s how we think it will pan out from now until the end of the year…
In 2012 we’ll see the next generation of Ultrabooks featuring the Ivy Bridge platform and integrated HD4000 graphics. Existing Ultrabooks utilize HD3000 graphics which aren’t adequate for recently released blockbuster games (see the ‘Gaming’ section of our Samsung Series 5 review). HD4000 graphics are going to be very welcomed as part of the next generation of Ultrabooks for both gaming and video encoding/decoding purposes. A benchmark from Intel comparing HD2000 and HD4000 graphics gives us an idea of how HD4000 will perform, even if we don’t have a direct comparison to HD3000 yet (note that the benchmark compares desktop processors, but the changes in performance from HD3000 to HD4000 are relevant).
At IDF Beijing 2012, Intel has a demo showing the Ivy Bridge / HD4000 platform running three taxing tasks across three separate monitors simultaneously. You’ll see video encoding, gaming (Portal 2), and HD video playback all at the same time. Quite impressively, the computer handles it with relative ease. NetbookNews shot a video of the demo in action:
Ultrabook prices are falling fast. The Novatech nFinity 2367 Ultrabook is on offer in the UK for £358 before tax, with SSD storage.
18mm thin with SSD – You’ve got two of the most important Ultrabook specifications covered. There’s a 14” screen too. The price is a UK pre-tax offer equating to around £430 after sales tax which smacks of great mainstream value. Where’s the catch?
Over the last 6 years of blogging I’ve been fortunate enough to have a well-focused and knowledgeable community associated with my sites. The comments on UMPCPortal articles are priceless nuggets of information and insight, Ultrabooknews has been the same. I want to thank you all for reading and contributing. I also want to offer you an easy way to feed back to me, to Intel and to the manufacturers. This post is intended as a long-life post open to all your comments. Key comments will be highlighted in the post as I regularly update it. I’ll be tracking comments as closely as I can, both here and on social networks, and I’ll be taking this with me to Intel, to manufacturers to ISVs and OSVs as a bell-weather of thoughts from our community.
Take the opportunity to comment below on anything Ultrabook related. Here are a few teasers to get you going?
I don’t believe any of the Gen-1 Ultrabooks should be taken off the market to be replaced with Ivy Bridge models but there’s a risk that they will be if manufacturers adopt a two-prong approach with low and high-end Ivy Bridge devices. News just in via The Verge says that new Ivy Bridge Ultrabooks, the UX32A and UX32Vd, will start at $800. Does that leave any space for price drops on the UX21 and UX31?
While old stock may go for cheaper prices in Q3 we think it’s unlikely that the UX21 and UX31 will continue on the production line.
As reported previously, there will be new ASUS Zenbook Ultrabooks with Full HD displays soon. The previously reported news has been confirmed by The Verge who have picked up a full spec sheet for the new ASUS UX31A and UX21A models that will launch when Ivy Bridge goes into production.
The Verge is also confirming the backlit keyboard but adding information on various screen options that range from matte to gloss with different brightness ratings. I can’t imagine that all the variants (including 2GB and 4GB RAM versions and three Ivy Bridge CPU versions) will all make it to productions but it’s great to see that ASUS are attempting to raise the bar. There’s also a switch to an Intel WiFi module that supports Wireless Display. Let’s hope it’s a high-end Centrino module although to be honest, the UX21 and UX31 already have good quality Qualcomm Atheros WiFi modules.
We’re once again working closely with the great team over at Netbooknews.com. Sascha, Nicole, Roland and Andrzej have put of some great CeBIT content for their English and German audiences so, after you’ve checked out our Vodcast below, head over to Netbooknews.com or Netbooknews.de to check them out.
In the vodcast Nicole Scott and I take the chance to talk about Touchscreen Ultrabooks, Windows 8, applications and app stores. We’ve also got the Intel touchscreen reference design and give you a little overview of that. Enjoy!
It’s almost a dumb thing to say really but yes, the price of 1st-gen Ultrabooks will drop. The question is, how much and will they be worth having?
Lets get one thing straight though, the Sandy Bridge platform is a good one and Ivy Bridge will be better but there won’t be a huge amount of difference for most people. Yes, they will be worth having although there’s a small matter of Windows 8 to consider!
You’ll probably see 15-30 minutes more battery life for average use cases as designs improve and there will be a significant increase in GPU 3D capability, some high-end improvements for Turbo, maybe a Thunderbolt port here and there and a small rise in baseline clock-rate (probably consuming any CPU efficiency gains) but in general there won’t be a huge difference for the average user. Your biggest decision will be around the operating system. Will you want a Windows 7 device when Windows 8 is available later in the year?
Despite Acer’s bullish proposals for an updated S3 ultrabook in April next year it looks like new Ultrabooks won’t start hitting shelves until the second half of 2012 but when they do, we can expect CPU and GPU clock boosts along with the extra goodness that’s going into the chipsets.