ULV Core i5/i7 notebooks launching this month

Despite rumours stating otherwise

IT APPEARS THAT rumours of Intel delaying its ultra low voltage Core i5 and Core i7 UM-series processors were off target, as the announced models will be appearing in notebooks this month. Fujitsu already has a 12.1-inch notebook on sale in Asia with the Core i7-640UM processor and other manufacturers are getting ready to launch their new notebooks.

The Digitimes story from a couple of weeks ago was referring to the yet to be announced models rather than the ones that have already been launched. However, there seems to have been a lot of confusion in the media as to whether or not any ULV Core i5 and Core i7 processors were to launch until the third quarter this year. This is not the case, as the Core i5-520UM and the Core i7-620UM and 640UM should be readily available in a wide range of notebooks.

The new processors are set to replace the CULV Core 2 based processors over time, although at least initially the new models will carry a fairly steep price premium, from the information we have at hand. The Fujitsu LifeBook P770A for example is selling for a massive $2,113 in Taiwan, although for what it’s worth, Fujitsu notebooks are generally overpriced in Taiwan.

Asus’ soon to be launched UL30Jt on the other hand went on pre-sale in Taiwan this week at the Softex spring consumer computer show and with discount it’s retailing for about $1,100. For that kind of money you get a Core i5-520UM processor, 2GB of DDR3 1066MHz RAM, a GeForce G310M graphics card with 1GB of dedicated graphics memory, a 640GB hard drive, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1, a 13.3-inch display and an 8-cell battery.

The comparable CULV model is the UL30Vt which has a Core 2 Duo SU7300 processor, a GeForce G210M graphics card with 512MB of dedicated graphics memory and a smaller 500GB hard drive, but otherwise the specifications are near enough identical and it can be had for about $915. The Core i5 and Core i7 processors should perform better than the older CULV processors, although we expect to see the price of Core 2 CULV based notebooks drop in price dramatically over the next couple of months as the manufacturers try to sell off their stock.

ViewSonic has already started to dump its inventory in Taiwan with prices coming down by as much as $200 in just a few weeks. Although ViewSonic has yet to prove itself as a reliable notebook manufacturer, many others are following suit and we’d expect to see a similar drop in prices of Core 2 based CULV notebooks in other markets. For whatever reason, the Core 2 based CULV notebook market didn’t take off as expected, although the downturn in the economy last year likely had a lot to do with it.

We also know that several Taiwanese notebook manufacturers are preparing new models that will be announced at Computex in June, of which many will feature the new ULV Core i5 and Core i7 processors. The biggest challenge that the ultra low voltage notebook market has is to make consumers aware of the difference between these slim-line notebooks compared to the much more affordable netbooks, as the extra money buys you more performance, but not necessarily much worse battery life and then there’s of course the added bonus of a larger screen. The downside is a slightly heavier notebook, but we’re talking 10oz at the most, which at least yours truly would be more than willing to trade for all the improvements one of these notebooks offers over a netbook.S|A

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