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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  • Penti - Saturday, September 26, 2009 - link

    I think the Acer Aspire Timeline 1810TZ with SU4100 is perfect, but I still wonder how it fares with Adobe Flash. Doesn't feel right if it can't do Youtube HD/Hulu HD (not that the latter is available here). It's about 690 bucks here in Sweden which here is a great price. A Macbook costs 1 200 bucks (before taxes) here as a comparison. It costs just as much as a PD or low end C2D 15.4 inch laptop in other words. Reply
  • jonup - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    I would think those are a lot more expensive than the Atom. As netbooks have a low price they need to keep the cost low. I have worked with several netbooks and they are all awful. The Atom is the worse performing CPU ever (in relative terms). ULV have similar TDP and way higher performance it seems like a no brainer, right. But the ULV are chery picked with limited supply and Intel keeps their price high. Reply
  • Aeternum - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    I would get something like the EEE pc if it had a similar setup but anything is better than a netbook that has trouble with full screen youtube video :P How is this at multitasking? What will be pricing? Reply
  • jonup - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    "The 15.6” UL50Vt and the 13.3” UL30Vt will retail for $849 once they start shipping at the end of this month."

    ps. Quote function was not working.
    Reply
  • Aeternum - Tuesday, September 15, 2009 - link

    Ooooh thx for the heads up jonus :) Reply
  • XBoxLPU - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    All of this talk about poor performance but no direct comparison to the Atom CPU? I know the core clock is low but these CULV chips have better performance than the Atom. Why compare a desktop CPU to a notebook CPU? Reply
  • Lexington02 - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    really? I mean look at the benchmark compared to the 2.26ghz proc.... The 2.26 ghz had a 3600 point bench mark while the slower proc at 1.73 ghz was at 3348 points which is much, much, much higher than the atom proc, which struggles to get past eight-hundred mark, so it is definately not that slow... Maybe to a person who is used to high power desktop user... Reply
  • Samus - Tuesday, September 15, 2009 - link

    some people forget the atom is basically PIII-1000MHz performance. so basically there is no need to compare anything else too it; atom is down-right slow as hell. sure, it'll run windows xp, surf the web and play music, but that's about it. forget HD video, forget multitasking, forget gaming.

    any core 2 can do all of that, at virtually any clock speed. and as stated, if you really want to see the atom sysmark, go look at previous reviews on AT of the atom platform. it scores about 850 sysmarks with the 945GM chipset.

    my 7 year old IBM Thinkpad x40 with a PIII-M 1.4GHz scores 1260 sysmarks, about 30% faster. and thats SEVEN YEARS OLD. it only gets about 2 hours battery life and still doesn't do HD video, but it's held me off upgrading (technically downgrading) to a new atom netbook.

    hopefully these CULV chips start coming in sub-$800 notebooks, and maybe just one of them will have a thinkpad-class keyboard. it bugs the hell out of me that Asus keeps releasing really nice notebooks with these keyboards that look nice but function poorly.
    Reply
  • Penti - Saturday, September 26, 2009 - link

    Look at the Acer Timeline TZ series. (like 1810TZ available in Europe) Reply
  • Eletriarnation - Wednesday, September 16, 2009 - link

    "Forget gaming" assumes that you're playing recent games. I run World of Warcraft on a netbook with a 1.67GHz Atom - it's not pretty, but it is playable in low-traffic areas. The "multi-tasking" limitation is also a matter of definition. I'd say that an Atom running WinXP or Win7 is probably sufficient for a the majority of what most users would want to do assuming they don't have a lot of background applications going. Reply

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