Intel is reportedly changing the definition of the superlight, super-thin notebooks to take advantage of the touch interface in the Windows 8 operating system.
According to Digitimes, sources in the Asian upstream supply chain claim that touchscreen technology will become a standard feature on all new ultrabooks from June this year when manufacturers move from Intel's Ivy Bridge processor micro architecture to its successor, Haswell.
This development is apparently causing ripples of concerns among computer manufacturers as demand for touch screens currently outstrips supply and, as a result, the price of components is being pushed up and if these extra costs are passed on to consumers, their devices could be seen as uncompetitive.
Whereas any portable computer that has a hinged screen which closes over its keyboard can be described as a notebook or laptop, what constitutes an Ultrabook is clearly defined by chipmaker Intel which owns the term as a registered trademark. Therefore, if Intel changes the criteria (which it has already done once when it changed its processor architecture in 2012), manufacturers must make the necessary changes to their designs in order to continue to market their products under the Ultrabook name.
What is an Ultrabook?
According to Intel, an Ultrabook can be no thicker than 18mm for computers with a display less than 14 inches, and no more than 21mm in thickness if the display is greater than 14 inches.
It has to use an energy-efficient Intel processor from the Sandy Bridge (if the computer is a 2011 model) or Ivy Bridge family (for 2012-2013 devices), feature security protection built into the processor and have anti-theft technology installed on its hard drive to protect the computer's contents if it is lost or stolen.
The computer must use a solid state hard disk so that it can boot in seven seconds and offer a minimum battery life of five hours between charges, although Intel recommends eight hours.
Finally, it must run Windows. Which means that the ultra popular MacBook Air, the device which all other Ultrabook manufacturers use as a benchmark, cannot be described as such despite ticking every other box on the Ultrabook list.