Ultrabook CPUs still too expensive, say notebook makers


— 6:00 AM on August 17, 2011

Despite Intel reportedly outlining Ultrabook bill-of-materials costs in the $475-650 range for 21-mm-thick systems and $493-710 for thinner 18-mm ones, notebook makers are still unhappy with how much the chip giant is charging for its CPUs. DigiTimes and SemiAccurate both cite sources within the industry as saying that notebook makers demanded a 50% reduction in CPU prices. Intel, they say, was only willing to offer a 20% discount.

At 20% off, Ultrabook CPUs will purportedly cost $250-317. That's a huge chunk of the total bill of materials, and it doesn't appear to include an associated chipset. If you're wondering why there aren't all that many Atom slates out there, look no further than the cost of the Oak Trail platform. Made up of an Atom Z670 CPU and SM35 chipset, the Oak Trail tandem is said to cost tablet manufacturers $95. Nvidia's Tegra 2, by contrast, runs "around $20."

Ultrabooks are set to pack Sandy Bridge CPUs with 17W TDPs, and there really isn't any competition for those chips. Zacate-based APUs have similar power envelopes but much slower CPU cores, while the new Llano-based mobile chips live in the 35-45W range. At least for now, notebook makers are going to have to work with Intel if they want to match the MacBook Air's performance and profile.

   
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