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IDF Day 2: Mobile Ivy Bridge, Haswell shows up too

The ever-popular Mooly Eden keynote show focused on Sandy / Ivy Bridge ultrabooks and the first showing of working Haswell system.

The IDF second day is usually as exciting and news-packed as the first one, especially since other speakers' keynotes may be more 'liberal' and peppered with more juicy revelations than what the CEO shows earlier. Mooly Eden, the VP in charge of the PC Client world – meaning desktops, notebooks and such, and the man who helped create Centrino, Core and all the way up to Sandy Bridge processors, was there on stage to promote Intel's next big mobile thing, the Ultrabook.

Now, Mooly has for some time preached a mantra that really reasonates beyond this whole processor thing: basically, with the likes of iPod and iPad, and such, the users are becoming more and more content consumers, not content creators. Then he dabbled into the left brain – right brain balance dilemma, with obvious focus on the right brain, which I have to welcome, myself being a pure 'right brain' left hander. That's where the Ultrabook comes as the ideal device – satisfying the practical requirements of the left brain, while providing a tool to materialise the inspiration from the right brain.

You may think this doesn't make any sense, but actually it does – think carefully, ARM  right now has an advantage only in the 'content viewing' devices like smartphones and tablets, while Intel rules the roost in 'content creation' devices like laptops, desktops and workstations. ARM wants to somehow go up, while Intel wants to expand downwards as well. The promise of added creation capability on Ultrabook – a notebook that is barely larger than a tablet, but with full PC capability and no less sexy looking – appeals to that 'freedom' and 'creativity' of the right brain. After all, you don't need an 'app store' to be controlled what you install on an Ultrabook, unlike with a tablet.

The technical merits of barely 1 cm thick Ultrabooks still include a decent dual core X86 CPU, preferably Ivy Bridge I guess, 13.3 inch or large screen – too bad most are in the infamous moviescreen 16:9 proportion at 1366×768, unproductive for serious work – and comfortable keyboard with touchpad for full creative operability. The prizmatic batteries are now there, instead of curvy ones, and brand new super thin displays, including the new e-DP kind that self refreshes the image for lower power use, and thin SSD drive – the HDD makes little sense here. Knowing that most of these machines will cost above S$ 1,000 in retail, SSD is to be expected. You can see the various vendors' early models here.

Frankly, with the 17 W CPU TDP budget in Ultrabooks, yet the need for performance, I feel the real systems matching all the requirements will really wait for Ivy Bridge update six months from now, not to mention better displays at 1600×900 or even FullHD resolution.

Mooly also ran the first fully working Haswell system here, no particular surprises, and the case was closed from the outside. The point was that Intel is basically ready, with Ivy Bridge ramp up not far away, and even Haswell prototypes seemingly working fine. Now, we just need more competition to spice up the race… 

Nebojsa Novakovic
In the spare time over the past two decades, editor and writer of high-end computer hardware and design features and analysis for European and US media and analyst houses. Reviews of high end hardware are my specialty for 28 years already.

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