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Intel invests $300m on ultrabooks, but may not be enough for manufacturers

The $300m fund will go directly to ultrabook development and ultrabook manufacturers

When Intel announced its concept of ultrabook laptops, the promise of a series of sub 0.8-inch thick notebooks with second generation Core ix processors at under $1000 seemed quite amazing, but in practice appears to be giving headaches to those same manufacturers who are trying to produce them.

Fortunately, Intel isn’t backing out on its promises. According to Bloomberg, the company is investing $300 million to fund the ultrabook project for the next three to four years. The money will directly aid participating ultrabook manufacturers, including Asus, Acer and Lenovo, in reaching that $999 price point. Additionally, the investment will fund research on longer-lasting batteries that are still thin and small enough to fit on an ultrabook.

The Intel Capital Ultrabook fund will focus on investing in companies building technologies that will help revolutionize the computing experience and morph today’s mobile computers into the next ‘must have’ device,” said Intel Executive Vice President Arvind Sodhani.

The monetary aid from Intel, however, may not be enough. Sources close to DigiTimes claim that the $999 target price is still out of reach and manufacturers are requesting cheaper Sandy Bridge CPUs as well as a $100 subsidy on each ultrabook produced or sold. Simply acquiring the materials and components necessary to build an ultrabook could be as high as $700, according to DigiTimes. A reduction in costs may already be happening, however, if manufacturers are indeed switching from magnesium alloys to fiberglass materials.

Manufacturing issues will have be resolved quickly, however, if the ultrathin notebooks are to make their Q4 2011 debut on time. Once released, the Intel ultrabook could be one of the company’s largest attempts at dethroning the MacBook Air in the thin-and-light laptop category.


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Allen Ngo, 2011-08-12 (Update: 2012-05-26)