Wow, what’s with all the CULV hate? I’ve never seen a quietly introduced, low volume, mobile Intel CPU get so much negative press before.

CULV stands for Consumer Ultra Low Voltage. It’s a badge affixed to certain mobile Core 2 Duos that run at lower clocks and lower voltages than standard mobile Core 2 Duos. Just as some CPUs can overclock higher than others, some CPUs can run at lower voltages than others. It all has to do with the bell curve for CPU yield; while the majority will run at a normal frequency/voltage range, some will turn out to be exceptional parts.

The CULV parts also use the smaller packaging Intel first debuted in the MacBook Air. The bottom line is that these chips will enable smaller, thinner laptops but without dropping down to Atom-level performance. Intel has traditionally always done an ultra low voltage mobile CPU, this time it's just getting marketed a bit stronger - partially because of the smaller packaging, and additionally because of the stronger market for ultra portable notebooks now.

Processor Clock Speed L2 Cache TDP
Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 1.30GHz 3MB 10W

 

The max TDP for the CULV line tops out at 10W, with the lowest end single core chips dissipating a maximum of 5.5W. That’s not much more than an Atom processor.

In contrast, standard voltage mobile Core 2s have TDPs ranging from 17 - 35W.

It’s not all about dropping the voltage though, clock speed unfortunately suffers. Most CULV chips run in the 1.2 - 1.4GHz range. While that’ll still be much faster than an Atom, it’s roughly half the frequency of a standard mobile Core 2. You can argue that clock speed doesn’t matter, but you’ll notice the difference between a 1.2GHz Core 2 and one running at 2.4GHz.

And that’s ultimately why OEMs view CULV as a failure in North America: performance. Or at least that’s what they’ve been going around telling everyone.

To a certain extent even Apple has recognized the poor performance of ultra low voltage chips. When it introduced the MacBook Air, instead of going with a 1.2GHz ultra low voltage Core 2 Apple used a low voltage 1.6/1.8GHz Core 2 Duo. The difference in clock speed is one of the things I pointed out as a reason why the MacBook Air didn’t suck.

ASUS must’ve come to the same conclusion, because although its new UL line use a 1.3GHz CULV Core 2 Duo the chip ships overclocked. Yep.

The ASUS UL50Vt: Overclocked CULV
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  • mattthemuppet - Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - link

    The Acer Timeline 3810T-6775 is a great deal - SU9400, Intel 80GB SSD and all the bells and whistles. I've got 7-71/2h runtime out of it (normal use, some sleep, wireless on) and I could probably get more if I dim the display. All for $800 from Newegg if they still have them. Reply
  • clarkn0va - Thursday, September 24, 2009 - link

    Agreed. I just picked up one of these and it's anything but slow. I don't use it for compiling, mind you, but it boots crazy fast, launches programs almost instantly and is totally silent when the fan is not on.

    I haven't bothered with flash yet, but 720p is not a problem, even without GPU decoding.
    Reply
  • Penti - Sunday, September 27, 2009 - link

    Please report back on flash, high quality VP6 or H264, I'm interested on how they fair. Reply
  • zorxd - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    My sister ordered a UL30A with the same CPU. Does the turbo33 feature also work with this laptop? Reply
  • Dainas - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    "The keyboard looks like Apple’s chiclet keyboard, but the feel is unfortunately not as nice. The tactile response just isn’t as solid as on the Apple."

    Not to be rude, but Apple has not produced a keyboard of any sorts that has a good feel to it in 15 years. Since they got it in their head that people like tapping on shallow space saving laptop type keyboards I've branded them all but useless. Honestly, how could the Asus keyboard be any worse? Atleast this one has the excuse of being a laptop.
    Reply
  • jasperjones - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    Looking forward to read more about on CULV on Anandtech.

    RE: negative reviews.
    The German-language magazine c't (19/09 issue) was actually very positive about the second wave of notebooks with Intel CULV (as well as new notebooks with AMD LUxxxx), mentioning their relatively modest pricing, low heat dissipation, and roughly twice the processing power of your standard, off-the-shelf Atom netbook.

    As for myself, I am seriously considering getting Intel CULV or AMD LUxxxx for my next notebook. I have desktops for the stuff I do "for fun" that requires high CPU/GPU performance. But for work, I don't really need that much performance on my local system. Being fortunate enough to work in an academic environment with good IT resources, I can easily run number-crunching stuff like MATLAB on our cluster--X11 forwarding works just fine, so I don't even need to forego a nice GUI.
    Reply
  • JackPack - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    Is it possible to underclock the Asus? i.e., drop the FSB to 166 MHz? Reply
  • pattycake0147 - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    Can the voltage to the CPU be lowered to reach better battery life? Does the voltage adjust with the Turbo33 feature?

    Maybe I just missed it, but which integrated GPU is used? I'm most interested in if it can decode HD video, and if it has HDMI out.

    This is notebook the type of product that is most interesting to me in the mobile sector.
    Reply
  • MODEL3 - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    quote:

    And that’s ultimately why OEMs view CULV as a failure in North America: performance. Or at least that’s what they’ve been going around telling everyone


    Did you meant from a performance / price ratio standpoint?

    You said that, while CULV CPUs are much faster than Atom CPUs, they have poor performance in relation with standard Core 2 Duo mobile CPUs and you didn't say about the pricing model, so it seemd to me that your focus was mainly on the performance side.

    I am asking because, it seems to me strange if OEMs view CULV as a failure from a performance standpoint only.

    I guess, they must view CULV as a failure from a performance / price ratio standpoint.

    When ASUS got the Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300, probably the 1K price was $262? (or anyway around $200...)
    And for example, a N270 was around $44? (or something in that range...)

    Certainly 1K prices, has absolutely nothing to do with what ASUS can negotiate with Intel.
    But the price difference is so large that even with the final negotiated prices the difference is huge.

    I don't know about Z5XX pricing, but i supsect if you compare platform pricing the difference will also be huge...

    Also, with CULV pricing model, a OEM can buy with the same money a much faster (+2X perf in some cases) standard Core 2 mobile CPU.
    And the OEM can promote/market easier i guess, the standard Core 2 mobile CPU based one.

    So essentially it is the pricing model that Intel followed regarding the market that the CULV CPUs are targeting.

    Don't you agree?
    Reply
  • jonup - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    Anand, suggestion for the full review.
    1.Do all the power setting continue to work when Turbo is on.
    2.Can you set up the Turbo to kick in only when the CPU usage goew above certain percent?
    3.Can you manually adjust the Turbo? (Obviously the motherboard is capable of overclocking, maybe it can go high with third party tools.)
    4.How hot does it get when Turbo is on?

    I am interested in a 15" notebook with ULV CPU, but $850 might be above what I am willing to pay. However, I still might pull the triger on it.
    Thanks in advance.
    Reply

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