Rumor: AMD will undercut ultrabooks by up to $200

AMD showed us a 17W Trinity APU variant at CES last week, and it’s pretty clear where that chip is headed: ultrathin notebooks just like Intel’s ultrabooks. DigiTimes is now saying that upcoming, Trinity-powered pseudo-ultrabooks could be quite a bit cheaper than their Intel counterparts.

Though the Trinity ultrathins will lack "significant innovations in terms of performance or function," DigiTimes says, they’ll feature prices "US$100-200 lower than those of Intel’s ultrabooks." The site adds that "some notebook vendors" fear the rise of AMD ultrathins may cause ultrabook prices to plummet—a scary prospect for ultrabook makers, perhaps, but an appealing one for the rest of us.

Ivy Bridge is already expected to herald cheaper ultrabooks, of course. Asus CEO Jerry Shen said last September that his company’s Ivy ultrabooks could start as low as $600. If AMD helps foment a price war on top of that, then next year’s ultrabooks and ultrathins could be awfully cheap.

AMD told us last week that Trinity’s 17W and 35W flavors will be out in the "mid-year" time frame. DigiTimes says AMD is gearing up for a June launch, which would trail Ivy Bridge’s April arrival by a couple of months. The site expects to see 20 AMD ultrathin designs go up against 75 Intel-powered offerings in 2012.

Comments closed
    • odizzido
    • 8 years ago

    CPU performance really is “good enough” these days. AMD may actually do well here.

      • StashTheVampede
      • 8 years ago

      Plop in enough ram (4GB+), SSD storage, long battery life, a high res screen and I’m a buyer. Shame these laptops won’t have any screen res higher than 1366×768.

        • odizzido
        • 8 years ago

        Yeah really. There are plenty of things that I will consider before CPU performance.

    • drfish
    • 8 years ago

    I’m excited, this is what I’ve been waiting for progress wise. I would trade 30-50% CPU performance to get better GPU performance in an ultra-portable with the same or similar power consumption (4-6 hours is good enough for me). Put that at a $500-600 price point with a quality 11.6″ screen and you’ve sold me my first new laptop in almost 5 years. Give me a backlit keyboard and a carbon fiber chassis and I’d pay $700-750.

      • NeelyCam
      • 8 years ago

      Backlit keyboards should be mandatory

    • willmore
    • 8 years ago

    Wasn’t there some figure out a few months back about the Intel CPU prices for the Ultrabook parts and how manufacturers were asking Intel to come down on the price a bit? Wasn’t it north of $300 for some of the chips? Not hard for an AMD based laptop to beat a similar ultrabook if they sell their CPUs for $100-$200. The rest of the hardware can be the same and they can still win on price.

    This spring/summer is going to be a great time to be buying a laptop.

      • BlackStar
      • 8 years ago

      Thumbs up.

      I’d also love a high-DPI monitor to seal the deal, but I guess Apple will do that first…

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 8 years ago

    If only they preformed better…

      • jdaven
      • 8 years ago

      That’s a ridiculous comment and you know it. You are taking the mindset applied to winning the CPU performance crown on high-end desktop systems and applying them to all computer products. If I’m not mistaken, all Intel Netbooks use Atom CPUs and Ultrabooks use 1.6-1.8 GHz dual core Sandy Bridge CPUs. Both of these with Intel IGP. These Ultrathins are priced between Netbooks and Ultrabooks, the CPU performance of Trinity is expected to be right in the middle and the GPU performance will be much higher.

      I’m not sure what more you could expect from a $500 laptop.

      • basket687
      • 8 years ago

      I firmly believe that CPU performance should not matter much for most laptop users, especially for ultrathin/ultrabook laptops. After a certain limit (maybe around 1.5 GHz Core 2 Duo or equivalent), an increase in CPU performance won’t really improve the user experience that much for non cpu-intensive tasks, which are the tasks typically done on ultraportables. Atom is too slow, but even the 1.6 GHz E-350 is mostly adequate for everyday tasks.

      Yes, a low voltage Trinity won’t match a low voltage Sandy bridge on the CPU side, let alone Ivy bridge, but if you want to edit video, render a 3d max project, or play hard core games then you should be looking elsewhere, because even an ULV Ivy bridge in an ultrabook won’t be good enough for those tasks.

      Also, Trinity based ultrathin laptops will likely have good battery life (if Llano is any indication) and it should be superior to Ivy bridge on the GPU side.

      I think that if good Trinity-based laptops get released then it will be fairly successful (like the E-350 based hp dm1z).

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 8 years ago

        My mom has a dual core 1.83 ghz Pentium based on I think Core 2 architecture. It occasionally struggles doing things like HD youtube. I would set the target more like 2.2 ghz I think. Of course more modern CPU designs or things like off loading to the GPU should let them get the actual clock speed down.

          • Vulk
          • 8 years ago

          Yeah, blame the HD4500 Graphics ‘chip’ for that magic. The CPU is compensating for Intel’s half-arsed attempt at graphics and more importantly drivers on that machine.

            • BlackStar
            • 8 years ago

            My E-350 displays 1080p YouTube flawlessly, with the CPU running 800MHz. Zacate, like Trinity, have built-in HD video decoders that don’t use the CPU.

            Intel’s 4500MHD was supposed to have a video decoder, too, but Intel’s drivers are atrocious. 10 years now and they still cannot figure out how to write a proper GPU driver – it’s ridiculous. So yeah, BobbinThreadbare’s mom’s troubles have to do with her Intel GPU.

            That’s why you buy AMD, people. Trinity will rock in its niche, as Zacate did before it. Intel really doesn’t have anything to counter it with.

            • NeelyCam
            • 8 years ago

            [quote<]Trinity will rock in its niche, as Zacate did before it. Intel really doesn't have anything to counter it with.[/quote<] I have my reservations about how well a 17W 32nm non-trigate Trinity can compete against a 17W 22nm trigate Ivy Bridge, but if it doesn't lose too much [i<]and[/i<] AMD manages that $100-$200 price advantage, this ultrathin notebook is going to be a killer product. I'm just wondering if the price difference will hold (considering Ivy Bridge generation Ultrabooks are supposed to be quite a bit cheaper than the current $1000 jokes)... can AMD sell these 17W Trinity chips at $100-$200 cheaper than Intel can sell Ivy Bridge? I doubt it - there has to be some corner-cutting somewhere else as well. SSD is probably the first one to go.

          • Hattig
          • 8 years ago

          Video playback is a function of the video decoder in the chip – that’s why 1GHz ARMs can play 1080p video. AMD’s Fusion and Intel’s SB and upwards have this, so you don’t need to set a higher clockspeed baseline just for this single use case.

    • ronch
    • 8 years ago

    Imagine that – a thin and light notebook powered by Bulldozer. Or should I say Piledriver? Now if only AMD can crank clock speeds up a bit so that the 17w Trinity models will actually perform better than today’s mobile Llano chips. It’s 2012, after all.

    Edit – I don’t understand all the thumb downs. Something I said? AMD fanbois seem to be a touch too sensitive these days. Chill, fellas.

      • Goty
      • 8 years ago

      Same performance at half the TDP on the same process in around a year… nah, that’s not an improvement at all!

        • Peldor
        • 8 years ago

        Actually the phrase was “similar performance.” In AMD-speak that could mean almost anything.

        The good news is when these are “scheduled” for “release” in “mid-year”, salt by the ton will be pretty cheap. $1/gerbil should cover us all.

    • dpaus
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<]"some notebook vendors" fear the rise of AMD ultrathins may cause ultrabook prices to plummet[/quote<] Implying/indicating that a major part of the attraction of UltraBooks - to the vendors, anyway - is nothing more than their profit margin. Which helps explain the otherwise mediocre specs.

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 8 years ago

      Their profit margin isn’t necessarily so attractive. They have to eek by to hit those $800 price tags with ULV iX parts and SSDs. The problem is that it may force them into dumping existing stock at a loss, with no way to make it up by just trying to spam something cheaper. They’ve already cut all the corners.

    • PeterD
    • 8 years ago

    I can’t imagine you can really make money with computers these days.

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 8 years ago

      You can if you’re selling $100 of sand for something that’s a few hundred dollars at retail. Intel and AMD definitely take the biggest cut of the laptop price between CPUs, chip sets, various controllers, SSDs, and graphics cards.

      The only things they don’t make themselves are highly marginalized and often unprofitable, like RAM, circuit boards, LCD panels, and the case/chassis.

      • Anvil
      • 8 years ago

      Apple still seems to do very well selling it’s computers these days, so it’s not all famine.

      Unfortunately, that’s the trouble with ceding practically all of your mid and upper range to a single vendor running another platform, it’s quite hard to make money with what you have left.

        • kamikaziechameleon
        • 8 years ago

        Its easy to sell premium laptops when no one else makes a compelling product. All the competition has horrible screens/touchpads/keyboards on their 1,500 plus computers. There is honestly no competition. meanwhile apple offers nothing compelling in the mid – lower range of laptops.

          • ludi
          • 8 years ago

          Well, yeah, but when someone like Dell tries (Adamo) they only get it to about 90% of what Apple was already doing, and the market shrugs out a collective “meh”.

          Apple sells a very good product, but they also sell image, which allows them to rake in the kind of margins necessary to keep the product good. Everyone else who tries to make something that meets every possible expectation for quality will be undersold by competitors who are willing to shave a couple bucks on a cheaper touchpad, or a couple bucks on a slightly cheaper chassis design, or a couple bucks on a slightly cheaper display, whatever. The consumer then sees two higher-end laptops that look functionally identical on the shelf, one for $899 and another for $849, says “Save $50? [i<]No problem![/i<]", and walks away with the cheaper model. Someone else who could have benefited from the $899 model walks into the Apple store and buys an MBP isntead, and the $899 laptop fails, to be quickly discontinued and consigned to history's dustbin.

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 8 years ago

            1366×768 screen is probably a big reason why. In fact, that screen right there eliminates it from being 90% of a Mac.

            Why not one up Apple, and throw a 1680×1050 IPS screen on your 14″ laptop.

            • BlackStar
            • 8 years ago

            Not really:

            – The 11.6” MBA ships with 1366×786.
            – The 13.3” MBP ships with 1280×800.

            Same shit, really.

            I really hope Apple introduces high-DPI monitors though (as their recent deal with Sharp would seem to suggest), as that would force the rest to abandon their sad 96dpi offerings. I’d dearly love a ~200dpi laptop in the 11.6” – 13.3” range, and I’d pay for that. Many people would – but manufacturers are morons and only know how to compete in bottom-end machines.

            Sigh.

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 8 years ago

            The DPI is similar, but 16:10 is much nicer to use than 16:9.

            As for the Air, I wouldn’t ever buy anything like that, and I assume a 14″ Dell was not intended to compete directly with a <12″ Mac.

            • sweatshopking
            • 8 years ago

            that’s an opinion, and one that’s quite subjective. I’d much rather stay 16×9 as it allows for better video playback. I do a lot of that, so it’s more my style.

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 8 years ago

            How is video playback “better”? Does a couple black bars really annoy you that much?

            At any rate, shouldn’t there be options for people who want 16:10? Or I guess PC makers can just keep doing what they’ve been doing because that’s been working out so well for them.

            • sschaem
            • 8 years ago

            Playing movies on a 16:9 laptop vs a 16:10 laptop… the 16:9 laptop still show black bars at the top and bottom.

            • sschaem
            • 8 years ago

            If the only thing you do is watch 19:9 video then yea, a 16:9 display make sense.

            For gaming, apps, browsing, etc.. etc.. 16:10 is better.

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