Intel recently announced the opening of three new Project Athena Open Labs in Taipei, Shanghai, and Folsom California. These labs will look into new designs for laptops. Designs and samples will be submitted by manufacturers where they will undergo testing and further collaboration.
Almost every laptop comes with an Intel chip and they are by far the most dominant player in the industry. Naturally, this makes Intel’s mobile-device chip business a major revenue source. This is also helped by the fact that both MacOS and Windows work very well with x86 chips.
But the situation is changing fast, with the widespread use of smartphones, ARM chips have risen in popularity. Windows for ARM was released in late 2017 and since then has been in constant development, sorting out compatibility issues in every release. Qualcomm is also set to enter the laptop market this year with their 8cx chip for Windows.
So Project Athena will be used to create a new class of laptops, to help Intel keep their solutions competitive. The project will focus on creating 5G Ready laptops with up to 20 hours of battery life and also some sort of AI implementation. It isn’t clear which Intel chips would power Project Athena Laptops, but TomsHardware states “Some of the first products will come wielding Intel’s 10nm Ice Lake processors, but Intel also plans to support new Athena-based designs with its Y- and U-series processors.”
As it is a collaborative project, OEM participation will be of paramount importance. Intel will also play a big role in certifying the laptops and providing recommendation for changes. This is mostly targeted at highly portable laptops and ultrabooks, which is also Qualcomm’s target market. The project isn’t limited to hardware development, overall design and important components will also be included. These laptops will start hitting shelves next year, but we may get additional information in Computex this year.