Browse virtually any laptop reviews website or forum and you’re sure to see users and critics comparing and contrasting the latest notebook and netbook releases with the latest tablets. People are all about tablets these days, and laptop manufacturers are struggling to come up with ways to keep their produces relevant as we approach the middle of the decade. This is reflected in the fact that PCs are slowly but surely losing ground in the domestic computer market. While still widely popular overseas, traditional laptops are seen as archaic by most American consumers. The solution then, is for laptop makers to make their devices more tablet-like. Hope for this comes in the form of the Ultrabook, a new kind of lightweight-yet-powerful portable computer ideally as transportable as a tablet.
But the future of the Ultrabook relies on the integrity of Intel’s latest innovation – the 22 nm die shrink of Sandy Bridge, known as Ivy Bridge.
The aspects of the tablet most inherent to its innovation are for the most part, aspects that laptops are unable to duplicate – it’s a matter of apples and oranges. Therefore, companies invested in the continuing success of the laptop-turned-Ultrabook are simply conspiring to beat the tablet in areas where it cannot yet duplicate traditional laptop performance. Ivy Bridge is key to this. Central to the success of the laptop in a world of tablets, as their manufacturers are likely to see it, is to promise the power of a traditionally larger laptop but through a much thinner profile and longer battery life.
The longer battery life is why Ivy Bridge is so critical. Through the 22 nm stage of processor microarchitecture, Intel hopes to keep the traditional laptop experience alive by arming Ultrabook makers with the means to essentially shrink the laptop down to the size of a tablet, while still being able to offer the aspects of the laptop you just can’t get with a tablet – mainly ergonomic typing, gaming, data storage, and content creation on a larger-than-novelty scale. Without an improved architecture, these things will not be possible on laptop designs that have to compete with ever-evolving tablets.
It’s worth mentioning that Intel is by no means putting all of their eggs in one basket – a sign that, at the end of the day, the fate of the laptop, or Ultrabook, is ultimately in the hands of the companies that make them, not the components builders. Ivy Bridge is also expected to play a heavy role in next year’s Android tablet releases, while it’s also anticipated that Windows 8 tablets will be using the new and improved architecture as well.
The tablet era is here. Preceding incarnations of portable computer technology are going to have to shape up if they want to continue to last against a strong and popular competitor.