For years personal computing has seen a lot of evolution happening in the operating system segment, especially with Windows evolving year after year – from Windows XP to Windows 10.
The personal computing segment has seen a lot of experimentation when it comes to hardware, as well. It has come in many form factors: the traditional Desktop, notebooks, tablets with a stylus, PDA’s and handhelds, new generation tabs, and phones capable of advanced computing.
With all the changes recently hitting the industry and all the innovations going around, it’s time that we take a look at what’s relevant and what’s not in the PC segment.
With the release of innovative products from Apple, introduction of tablets with thinner and lighter form factors, there have been housewives talks going around that PCs are dead. So let me set that right. PCs aren’t dead and aren’t going to be. But changes are something you can definitely expect. Desktops with traditional keyboards and mice are here with powerful hardware, and to carry out most of the tasks, we all need desktops.
Tablets are wonderful too. They do their job well, mainly as content consumption devices. So do the mobile phones nowadays, which are definitely smart, allowing us to eliminate the need to carry a separate music player, digital camera and so on. So where will the change take place now? Take a look around you and you already know what I’m talking about. Notebooks!
It could really be a personal choice, but oh man, I wasn’t much of a Notebook fan. I have my desktop, usually a new one every year, as I love Windows and am attached to my desk most times of the day. And when I’m on the move, I rather stick to my smartphone for almost all my basic needs – and if I get some extra time and need a bit more to satisfy my Internet or digital needs, I can pull out my tab.
Then where do notebooks come to play? They are heavy pieces of hardware with low battery life and more maintenance needs. It was once a status symbol – carrying them around. Gone are those days. With all due respect, notebooks, you are the reason why we even had the rumor fire up about the death of all PCs.
Like all dying age technologies, during the transition from, bad to good, there’s been always an intermediate guy, who just appears and disappears like a spark. For example, Pagers! Those were the small devices that appeared between the transitions of landlines to cell phones.
So were the Netbooks. These were expected to satisfy those who weren’t satisfied with the tabs, nor with the notebooks. Netbooks were supposed to serve the purpose of Notebook and Tab at the same time, working as a low-cost entity. But I guess those aren’t really the replacement for notebooks. They just aren’t powerful enough. The idea was strictly set to the limits of Internet usage. What about power computing? An even bigger – “No”.
So something new had to be there. And last year Intel envisioned the same. They wanted powerful computing in small ultra-thin form factors, with highly durable battery life. And they were called Ultrabooks.
What are Ultrabooks?
In a nutshell, Ultrabooks are notebooks themselves. The hardware standardization is what makes them into a different genre of notebooks. As I mentioned earlier, Ultrabooks are thinner, powerful notebooks with amazing modern technology hardware and longer battery life. It bridges the gap between tablets and old-generation notebooks.
Technically, Ultrabooks have to follow strict hardware guidelines from Intel.
- Screen size: 13″ screen size, ultrabook should be thinner than 18 mm. 17″ or larger screens should be thinner than 21 mm.
- Battery life: must be greater than 5+ full working hours
- Processor: should be second-generation or above intel processors designed exclusively for higher performance and lowest power consumption
- Optical Drives: not required
- Technologies: Thunderbolt, USB 3.0, Bluetooth 3.0, etc. if present.
- Wi-Fi: Mandatory
- Wimax + 3G: Required but not mandatory
- Boot: Requires sandy bridge-type Intel rapid storage (boot elements are stored on chips of the mainboard for near to instant boot)
- Touch screen: Required for Haswell generation ultrabooks (Windows 8 ultrabooks)
The first notebook in the Ultrabook line is the Asus UX21, a .67-inch laptop that is thinner than the MacBook Air, includes an 11.6-inch display, one USB 2.0 port, and one brand new USB 3.0 port. These ultrabooks are expected to have instant-on features, which will allow you to quickly flip the laptop open and use it immediately. Most will also carry powerful modern processors, modern hardware specifications like USB 3, Thunderbolt, etc. Four system makers have already shipped ultrabooks based on the current Sandy Bridge CPUs: Acer, Asustek, Samsung and Toshiba. In the coming future, Intel is planning to work on Haswell, a 22nm processor architecture to follow on to Ivy Bridge, that aims to cut power consumption while maintaining performance. Haswell aims to deliver a 20 times reduction in power consumption, which will enable a mobile system to “live” almost ten days in standby mode on a single charge. Haswell could well complete the ultrabook revolution.
Coming to some of the revolutionary technical changes made, Intel has developed an LCD panel specification that saves system power by storing enough data to serve up a screen image without waking up the host CPU. The specification involves transitioning the panel interface to an embedded Displayport and putting less than a megabyte of memory in the panel electronics. The scheme could add up to an hour, to the average life of a mobile system’s battery.
Also, Microsoft and Intel are bringing an emerging PC power management scheme called Converged Platform Power Management, which will first be inbuilt into Windows 8. The approach involves aggressively scheduling power use across the system based on power parameters that the hardware components report to the system.
As you can see, it’s not just the cosmetic changes that Ultrabooks shows off. They are a new race. Their sales may be slow now, but their future looks bright.
This is a guest post by Mister Lee.