Technology Brief: Ultrabooks
"Ultrabooks" are a subset of lightweight notebooks that meet Intel's set of requirements for a Windows 7-optimized lightweight notebook. These requirements include a relatively long battery life, a quick response when waking up from sleep (usually achieved with a solid state drive), and a light weight for a given screen size. By definition, there are no AMD-based Ultrabooks - AMD's competing trademark is "Ultrathin", but they do not enforce a minimum specification like Intel does.
Most current Ultrabooks are in the 11-inch to 13-inch range, though a few are up to 15 inches. Almost all Ultrabooks do not have an optical drive. Many also do not have a wired Ethernet port or a full sized VGA port.
It's important to understand that Ultrabooks do not represent anything truly new. Since the release of Intel's Sandy Bridge platform almost year ago, it has been possible to create a device that meets Ultrabook specifications and (aside from being Mac OS-based) recent MacBook Airs do. What is different about Ultrabooks is that they have Intel's considerable branding and marketing push behind them - the kind of push with which Intel has had success in the past with brands like Centrino.
Information Systems & Computing (ISC) sees Ultrabooks as adding substantially to choice and quality in the lightweight notebook category for Windows users. In the first half of calendar 2012, many manufacturers will release Ultrabooks and often there will be several offerings per manufacturer.
--John Mulhern III, Lead for Client Technologies, ISC Technology Support Services (February 2, 2012, updated February 10, 2012)