Intel Launching New Family of Ultra-Low Voltage Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 CPUs

It was only a matter of time. In January, Intel launched its new 2010 Core CPUs for notebooks, including the Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7. At the time, we heard that ultra-low voltage versions of the chips would be coming, but up until now, we hadn't seen any appear. Today, at an online press event, Intel VP and General Manager of the PC Client Group Mooly Eden introduced this new line of chips.

Featuring the same 32-nanometer chip design as their normal voltage cousins, this new line of CPUs promises a 15-percent reduction in power consumption while still offering high-performance features like Hyper-Threading and Turbo Boost. According to Eden, the new ultra-low voltage technology chips will cover all price points, ranging from Celeron on the low end to Core i7 on the high-end. Over 40 notebooks based on the new processors will start hitting store shelves in June.

Because the CPU and chipset are 32-percent smaller than their standard voltage counterparts, Intel sees this new line of CPUs powering the growth of thin and light PCs. The smaller chips also generate a lot less heat, -- sporting a low TDP (Thermal Design Profile) of only 17 watts -- and require less cooling.

Despite its smaller size and lower power consumption, the new processors promise 32 percent better performance than the current generation of ultra-low voltage processors. He showed a slide that claims video editing will be 40-percent faster, multi-tasking will be 35-percent faster, and graphics performance will be more than twice as fast as current low-voltage CPUs like the Core 2 Duo SU7300.

A number of vendors, including ASUS, MSI, Lenovo, Acer, and Gateway have already committed to supporting the new ultra-low voltage platform. Eden said that most of these systems will be 12 to 13-inches, though they can range in size from 10 to 15 inches. Among the notebooks shown are the MSI X350, the new Lenov U160 and U460, and the Acer Aspire 1830

Based on performance improvements and the new design wins, Eden expects the ultra-thin segment will grow from 10 to 20 percent. He showed the following slide, based on projections from IDC.

We were very excited last year when we first saw ultra-thin notebooks like the MSI X Series, the Acer Timeline, or the Lenovo U Series. However, the performance on many of these systems could be a little disappointing, particularly when it came to things like watching high def movies, playing games, or transcoding video. If this new line of CPUs increases performance dramatically, this segment could really take off.

Avram Piltch
Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master's degree in English from NYU.