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Super-thin laptops based on Intel’s “Apollo Lake” CPUs may ditch replaceable RAM

The latest rumors flowing from the mouths of Taiwan’s notebook supply chain is that notebooks based on Intel’s “Apollo Lake” processors may have on-board soldered memory designs. OEMs are reportedly pushing to create an even slimmer, lighter form factor in their laptop products, and this shift to soldered memory is one of the side-effects. The “Apollo Lake” hardware is usually sold under Atom, Celeron, and Pentium brand names, and found in extreme low-cost notebooks (between $200 and $500).

What this means for consumers is that when they purchase an Apollo Lake-based notebook, they’ll be locked at a specific memory configuration. Up until now, a notebook’s memory can usually be upgraded by removing a specific cover on the backside to easily gain access to the memory area. In some cases, the entire backside must be removed to gain access. Thus, replacing the memory sticks with higher-capacity models wasn’t an impossible feat for consumers using a screwdriver and the wondrous unlimited power of Google.

RelatedIntel says Kaby Lake, Apollo Lake, and Optane are on track during Computex 2016

However, if the memory is now on-board, the chips are soldered into place on the motherboard itself and cannot be replaced. As a result, notebook motherboards supporting Apollo Lake won’t have any memory bank slots whatsoever, reducing the overall amount of hardware packed into the super-thin form factor. This slightly reduces manufacturing costs for the OEM, as well.

According to the sources, Acer will introduce two new ultra-thin notebooks next week during IFA 2016 in Berlin, the Aspire S 15 and the Aspire S 17, that will measure less then 17mm thin. These sources also point to Asus, Dell, HP, and Lenovo, who are shooting to launch ultra-thin notebooks and all-in-one PCs based on Apollo Lake within the next four months.

Intel officially revealed its low-cost 14nm “Apollo Lake” Atom system-on-chip (SoC) platform back in April during its first 2016 developer forum in Shenzhen. Based on Intel’s “Goldmont” x86 processor core technology and a ninth-generation graphics core architecture, these Atom SoCs are aimed at tablets, notebooks, hybrid devices, and AIO PCs within the second half of 2016.

During Intel’s presentation, the company said that OEM’s creating devices based on Apollo Lake processors can use a smaller battery thanks to Atom’s increased performance balanced with reduced power consumption. OEMs can also “solder down” components like Wireless AC (as opposed to installing a separate module), storage thanks to eMMC support, and DDR3L memory. Apollo Lake even supports a MIPI camera to help thin out the device’s overall form factor.

We already know that Acer plans another global press event during the IFA 2016 convention next Wednesday. The CEO and other executives will reveal the company’s new holiday lineup, which possibly includes the two rumored Apollo Lake laptops. Lenovo and Asus will have press events of their own as well, so stay tuned. We’ll soon see if the rumors are true.