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Ultrabooks to Stimulate PC Growth

Upcoming releases by computer manufacturers of thin, lightweight, “ultrabook” computers will drive new growth for the PC industry, according to market researcher TrendForce of Taiwan.

TrendForce also predicted that ultrabooks will drive demand for certain components such as low-power RAM, LEDs, and rechargeable batteries, among others.

PC manufacturers plan to ship new ultrabooks to compete with Apple's MacBook Air, which was introduced in 2008. Ultrabooks are lighter and thinner than regular notebook computers and have a long battery life.

The new computer segment will post strong growth through 2015, according to TrendForce.

"We believe that ultrabook market share will jump from under two percent in 2011 to over ten percent in 2012, stimulating renewed growth of the PC industry," said TrendForce CEO Kevin Lin.

Computer makers plan to produce ultrabooks as thin and light as the MacBook Air, with longer battery life and computing efficiency than standard notebooks, TrendForce reported. The MacBook Air’s dimensions are 12.8 inches. wide × 8.94 inches deep × 0.11 inches high. The MacBook Air weighs less than 3 pounds.

After the MacBook Air was released in 2008, Dell, Sony and HP also introduced ultrabooks. More new ultrabooks will be released between the fourth quarter of this year in the second quarter of 2012, according to TrendForce.

Many of these ultrabooks will likely have solid-state flash memory drives or hybrid drives which combine solid-state drives with traditional hard drives.

“Whether equipped with large amounts of SSD or hybrid storage devices, ultrabooks will effectively stimulate NAND flash demand growth, providing significant benefit to the entire NAND flash industry in 2012," said Sean Yang, assistant vice president of researcher DRAMeXchange.

The new ultrabooks will also use low-power random access memory (RAM) soldered to the motherboard, reported TrendForce.

While 1.5V is the standard of mainstream DDR3 DRAM, DDR3L (low power) is expected to be standard for ultrabooks. DDR3L operates at 1.35V and will result in a power savings of about ten to fifteen percent, compared to current specifications, according to TrendForce.

Ultrabooks set to be released will use lithium polymer, thin prismatic or thin cylindrical rechargeable batteries. The MacBook Air uses lithium-ion polymer.

Because ultrabooks need to be thin and light, ultra-slim light emitting diodes (LEDs) will be used for backlighting. Some LED manufacturers such as Nichia and Toyoda Gosei Co., (TG) have already increased shipments of ultrabook LED backlight products.