Intel Corp on Monday launched a lighter, power-saving microprocessor intended for use in ultra-thin laptops, a move by the top chip maker to shore up its lead in mobile computing.
The new processor, dubbed the Pentium SU2700, comes amid investors' fears that cheaper processors such as the Atom, designed for use in ultra-cheap netbooks, are cannibalizing the market share for higher-margin, more expensive chips.
Acer and Asustek have said they will build laptops with the chip, and Microsoft will ensure its software supports it.
Intel expects that by the fourth quarter of 2009, about a fifth of its consumer shipments will be for the new-generation laptops, slimmer and more energy-efficient.
Intel is upbeat on the ultra-thin market and expects explosive growth in 2009, very similar to the netbook growth, Intel's director of mobile platforms product marketing Uday Marty said on a conference call.
Asustek, which in 2007 pioneered the successful low-cost, no-frills netbook PC in 2007, is expected to unveil five new laptop models based on the technology this year.
Analysts say Intel's CULV platform may offer a cheaper -- but virtually as powerful -- alternative to the traditional processors it makes for laptops, while enabling laptops to begin to approach the diminutive size of netbooks.
Intel on Monday also released three new Core 2 Duo processors and a new mobile chipset.
(Reporting by Edwin Chan and Clare Baldwin; Editing by Gary Hill)