Intel's all-out effort to make Ultrabook the mainstream personal computing device is faced with several hurdles, pricing being a big one. The ultra-sleek notebooks need rigid materials, turning manufacturers to monolithic aluminum chassis, driving up costs. Intel did its partners' homework, by achieving what it calls a breakthrough in structurally-rigid plastics and chassis design, which will help make the Ultrabook more affordable.
In its latest Chip Shot (micro press-release), Intel announced a breakthrough in chassis design and structurally-rigid plastics, which can help Ultrabook manufacturers make chassis that are just as slim and durable as those made out of expensive materials, such as aluminum. Intel's engineers deviced a reference-design Ultrabook chassis, which is a fraction of the cost, while being equivalent in "quality" (read: durability), to chassis that are machined out of blocks of aluminum, or die-cast metal.
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Intel's breakthrough doesn't involve creation of newer materials than those widely available today, but 'structural reduction analysis' of the common Ultrabook chassis design, which achieves added strength to chassis designed using existing plastics. The way we understand it, Intel may have found ways to reinfoce sheets of ABS plastic that make up the body and bezels. Intel's claim of the new plastic chassis being just as durable as metal ones is a particularly interesting one.
Intel announced that it will share the results of its work with its ecosystem partners (Ultrabook manufacturers), and products implementing the new innovation could be out by 2013, after further refinements. As long as it drives down costs, and doesn't affect rigidity, we're not complaining.