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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  • MrSpadge - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    I've got one of the first Penryns in my notebook and it gets by happily with the minimum voltage the board can supply (0.925 V) up to 2.0 GHz. I'd be surprised if this chip needed any more than this even at 1.73 GHz.

  • araczynski - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    this is intel's way of trying to con people into buying overpriced hardware again.

    at this price point, unit size, you'd have to be close to retarded to buy a neutered laptop.

    you'll want either a cheap/small netbook, or something with some balls.

    this thing is stuck in the WTF middle, not cheap, not small, and still weak.
  • MrSpadge - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    It's not Intel who choose to put this CPU into a 15" chassis.

  • JohnMD1022 - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    $850? lololol... I'll pass
  • irev210 - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    When you go to the 11.6" form factor, the higher resolution screen and the similar weight, battery life, and cost of a typical netbook makes the CULV a no-brainer.

    I am surprised more notebook manufactures haven't attacked the 11.6" market. The Acer AS1410 is really the only compelling 11.6" product on the market at the moment.

    $437 shipped from amazon... where is ASUS, Lenovo, Samsung, etc?

    I think a 11.6" formfactor + CULV is what the people want, they just don't know it yet.
  • Fanfoot - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    I assume most of the readers who come here are performance geeks and don't care about anything that isn't the fastest and best...

    I'd encourage you to ignore them and cover stuff that is important regardless. Personally I'm interested in the CULV laptop space (and maybe even the CULV internet streamer little box beside the TV space). And this article is therefore quite interesting to me.

    Atom netbooks are GREAT and ground breaking, but yes they're slower than we'd like. It seems likely that CULV mini laptops will be more expensive, but if its only a little it MIGHT be worth it given that the battery life won't be that different. So to me something like an 11" thin-n-light makes the most sense.

    The main thing I'd like to see you cover is whether you can handle HD Flash full screen on a 720p laptop screen using a CULV processor (and whatever GPU) at the moment, or not? Given that even a dual core Atom 330 with Ion can't do this, even when you overclocked it to 2.0GHz, this would be a significant improvement.
  • MadMan007 - Thursday, September 17, 2009 - link

    There are proper reviews out you just need to search around a bit. Here's one:"> from the 'YouTube HD windiwed' results I think we can extrapolate that a full screen video would run ok but you'll need a dual core CULV to do so.
  • fitten - Tuesday, September 15, 2009 - link

    Indeed... these CULV processors might be pretty nice for HTPC boxes as well...
  • strikeback03 - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    AMD must really be hoping for good profits on these GPUs to go to the expense of renting an aircraft carrier.
  • Guspaz - Monday, September 14, 2009 - link

    Nice to have the G210M in there. It actually only uses slightly more power (14W) than the 9400M used in the Ion (12W), although I'm not sure if that 12W includes the rest of the ION chipset.

    Performance-wise, it looks like it should be a third to half again faster than the 9400M. Having this is nice, because you can disable it when you're on battery, and enable it when you're on AC power.

    It's unfortunate that the notebook doesn't use an nVidia chipset with a 9400M; the G210M supports Hybrid-SLI (SLI between the integrated (9400M) and discrete (G210M) GPUs) which would really let you push some decent performance when on AC power.

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