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Review: Acer Timeline 5810T. Intel CULV laptop promising 8-hour battery life

by Tarinder Sandhu on 19 June 2009, 08:21 3.6

Tags: Acer Timeline 5810 (mains), Acer (TPE:2353)

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What's CULV

The purpose of the CULV platform is to enable partners to produce thin, light, and relatively inexpensive laptops that offer more performance than the Atom range of netbooks. Currently, the Intel CULV is based around the full-fat mobile Core 2 architecture, with chips pared-down with respect to voltage, speed, cache, and cores.

Intel may well spin-off CULV to other architectures at a later date, but, right now, it can be thought of as Core 2 on a package and performance shrink. Add to this a range of already-available chipsets - 945GSE, GM45, GS45, et al - and it's easy to see how Intel has gently coerced  notebook manufacturers into releasing a new genre of laptop.

Apple's MacBook Air was probably the first to use what we now term a a CULV platform, but Acer, MSI, ASUS, and Dell have been trotting out designs in 2009.

Processors Cores Architecture Process Clock-speed Cache Price per 1K Max TDP Package size Die size Socket
Intel Core 2 Solo U2200 1 Core 2 65nm 1.20GHz 1MB L3 $262 5.5W 35mm x 35mm 143mm² N/A
Intel Core 2 Solo ULV SU3500 1 Core 2 45nm 1.40GHz 3MB L3 $262 5.5W 22mm x 22mm 107mm² BGA956
Intel Core 2 Duo U7700 2 Core 2 65nm 1.33GHz 2MB L2
10W 35mm x 35mm 143mm²
Intel Core 2 Duo SU9600 2 Core 2 45nm 1.60GHz 3MB L2 $289
10W 22mm x 22mm 107mm² BGA956
Intel Core 2 Duo L7700 2
Core 2 65nm 1.8GHz
4MB L2 $307 17W 35mm x 35mm 143mm² N/A

Intel Core 2 Duo P9600 2
Core 2 45nm 2.66GHz
6MB L2 $348 25W 35mm x 35mm 143mm² PGA478

Intel Atom N270 1 (HT)
Atom 45nm 1.60GHz
1MB L2 £44 2.5W 22mm x 22mm 26mm² PBGA437

AMD Athlon Neo MV-40
Athlon 65nm 1.60GHz
1MB L2 N/A 15W N/A N/A PBGA437

Now, CULV is an all-encompassing term that denotes low-voltage Intel mobile processors. We've grouped five such CULV chips together, ranging from single-core to dual-core, 65nm production to 45nm process. In general, CULV's characterised by chips with a TDP of between 5.5W-10W, and we expect the SU3xxx and SU9xxx range to make up the bulk of sales. Note how a full-fat Core 2 P9600 can consume around 25W on its own.

What's important to understand is that the CPU is just one part of the equation. The Atom N270 looks mightily power-frugal with a maximum TDP of just 2.5W. Add in a 945GSE chipset and that can rise to 11W or so. The CULV range combined with a GM45/GS45 chipset should pull no more than 23W under load, which is roughly the same as AMD's Yukon (Neo MV-40 and X1250 chipset). Further, with respect to battery life, the average and near-idle power consumption are perhaps the more important figures.