Dell's thinnest laptop to sport Sandy Bridge chip

Dell's new ultraslim laptop will be part of the XPS laptop lineup, a source familiar with Dell's plans says

Dell will release an ultrathin laptop with Intel's latest Sandy Bridge chips in the next few weeks, the company said Monday.

The ultra-slim laptop will "bring performance and style together in a big way," the company said in a blog entry.

A source familiar with Dell's plans said the laptop will be part of the XPS consumer laptop lineup and will draw heavily from the designs of Adamo, a slim laptop that the company started shipping in 2009. The Adamo laptop ultimately failed, but many of its designs were used by Dell in laptops such as the Vostro V13 and Vostro V130.

The new XPS laptop could compete with Apple's MacBook Air, which debuted in early 2008. The XPS could be faster than current MacBook Air laptops, which were refreshed last year with Intel's Core 2 Duo chips. Sandy Bridge microprocessors are close to two generations ahead of the Core 2 Duo processors, which are based on the older Penryn microarchitecture. Apple opted not to use Core chips from Intel's Westmere architecture, the predecessor to Sandy Bridge.

But Dell's speed advantage could be short-lived. Apple two weeks ago released its first MacBook Pro laptops with Intel's Sandy Bridge chips, which could pave the way for MacBook Air upgrades with new processors later this year.

A Dell spokeswoman declined to comment on the new ultrathin laptop, saying further details would be released at a later date.

Ultrathin laptops are lightweight and easy to carry, but high prices have limited their sales. The laptops incorporate components such as solid-state drives (SSDs) for data storage to reduce the size and improve battery life. The laptops usually do not include optical drives, which can take up a lot of space.

Dell in the blog entry also said it would announce new Inspiron consumer and other XPS laptops with Intel's Sandy Bridge chips next week. The company will initially introduce the Inspiron R-series of laptops, according to the source.

The company has already announced many PCs with Sandy Bridge chips that will start shipping this month. The company in early February announced Latitude laptops and OptiPlex desktops, which are targeted at businesses.

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