Intel preps Core 2 Duo ‘Ultra’?

Days after AMD’s launch of the Neo processor for ‘thin and light’ ultraportables rumours say Intel is set to announce a similar budget-priced chip.

The scuttlebutt from the Consumer Electronics Show where Intel was out in full force to showcase innovations ranging from ‘Widget TV’ to its My WiFi personal mesh networking is that the chip will be a tweaked version of Intel’s existing ultra-low voltage 45nm Core 2 Duo ‘Penryn’  3M small package processor.

That chip’s predecessor a 65nm ‘mini-Merom’ codenamed Santa Ynez was at the heart of the MacBook Air and Lenovo’s ThinkPad X300. Most of the latest crop of thin and light notebooks are built around the ULV or LV Penryn but have price tags well above those of mid-range notebooks.

Intel’s small package chips have an overall footprint of just 22mm² compared to 35mm² for the conventional mobile processors. The ULV variant of the Penryn released in September as part of the Centrino 2 wave currently clocks at 1.2GHz and 1.4GHz with a 10w thermal ceiling.

However the manufacturer prices average US$275 which represents a third of the total retail price for category of thin-and-light notebooks proposed under AMD’s much cheaper Neo. The first Neo-powered ultraportable HP’s 2.2cm-thin dv2 sells for between US$700-$900 depending on the configuration.

Like the Neo Intel’s ultraportable chip would slot between the netbook-favoured Atom and the Core 2 Duo of conventional laptops.