Will 40% of PC buyers own an ‘Ultrabook’ by 2012?

Intel’s Executive Vice President Sean Maloney thinks so. In his keynote speech at Computex 2011 in Taipei, Maloney mapped out the company’s processor plans for the next few years, along with his vision of a new form factor that he believes will comprise 40% of PC sales over the next 18 months.

The ‘Ultrabook™ (yes, Intel has trademarked it)’ is what you get when you cross a laptop with a tablet, and throw in some new technologies to improve responsiveness, connectivity and data security. Then package it all up in an ultra-slim design that’s less than 2cm thick, and make it cheap too, like around the $AU1,000 to $AU1,200 price point. Sound good?

Step one of Maloney’s three step plan to ‘Ultrabook’ domination begins with the introduction of Intel’s second generation Core processor, which will start appearing in Ultrabooks in the second half of 2011.

Intel’s philosophy is to design its new processors with the user’s ‘experience’ in mind, and not to simply to increase speed and draw less power. This sees the introduction of some clever features including Intel Rapid Start Technology and Intel Smart Connect Technology.

Intel Rapid Start Technology is an ‘always on’ feature that eliminates the irritating wait that most of us experience while our PCs and notebooks resume from hibernation. So the idea is that instead of shutting your computer down, you can put it into a hibernated state instead, which gives you about 30 days of battery life, and can be brought back to life in 5 or 6 seconds.

Another timesaver is Intel Smart Connect Technology. The idea is that considering that many of us are connected to online applications like Facebook, email, Twitter or other cloud-based applications, when our computers go to sleep, they loose these connections. With Smart Connect, even when you put your computer to sleep, it will occasionally update your mail, feeds and other Internet connected apps without waking up, so you have the latest data ready to go when you wake your machine up.

While the details are sketchy, Ultrabook processors will improve security through hardware data encryption, making it more difficult to compromise data and steal identities. Also, Mooly Eden, Intel’s Vice President and GM of PC Client Group mentioned a ‘remote kill’ feature for Ultrabooks, which allow you to remotely erase your computer’s hard drive to protect your data.

Phase two Ultrabooks will hit shelves in 2012, and be based on the Intel’s upcoming ‘Ivy Bridge’ processors, which feature a .22 micro architecture and cutting-edge 3D Tri-Gate 3D transistors. Integrated USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt will also become standard features. Phase 3 Ultrabooks will appear in 2013 and introduce products based on the Haswell processor platform.

Keep on the lookout for the first batch of Ultrabooks including ASUS’s UX21, Lenovo’s U300, LG’s P220 and Samsung’s Series 9.