Cheap 5G laptops could be Intel's secret weapon against AMD

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5G connectivity is set to come to a new generation of laptop devices thanks to a new partnership between MediaTek and Intel.

The two companies have signed an agreement to use MediaTek's standalone 5G modem alongside Intel's latest mobile platforms to enable notebooks with 5G connectivity. 

Intel plans to validate MediaTek’s T700 5G modem with its mobile platforms and expects the first 5G-connected ‘Intel Inside’ laptops to arrive in early 2021. 

MediaTek’s standalone T700 5G modem supports non-standalone and standalone Sub-6 5G network architectures and will therefore be compatible with various networks worldwide, a useful feature for travelers.  

To ensure smooth operation of the T500 5G modem with its computer platforms, Intel is validating their compatibility and interoperability, co-developing drives as well as readying co-engineering support for PC makers to help integration of the modem into their designs.

Always connected Wintel PC

Although Wi-Fi networks are ubiquitous these days, there are places and situations when WWAN connectivity has to be used. While it is relatively easy to set up a personal Wi-Fi hotspot using a modern smartphone, many business laptops come equipped with their own modems for added comfort, confidence as well as security reasons.  

Previously, Intel had sometimes paired its platforms with its own 4G/LTE modems (not that the combination was wildly popular), but since the company sold its modem business to Apple and, it had to either develop its own 5G modem for PCs, or find a new 5G modem supplier. 

Now, the world’s largest CPU maker has decided to use MediaTek’s T700 5G modem with its mobile platforms. 

MediaTek says that Dell and HP will be among the first OEMs to offer laptops based on Intel CPUs and equipped with MediaTek’s T700 5G modem in early 2021. 

(Image credit: MediaTek)

MediaTek did not initially name any specific platforms that will be validated with its T700 5G modem, but considering that Intel has just introduced its codenamed Lakefield processors for ultra-compact notebooks and 2-in-1s, as well as plans to unveil its codenamed Tiger Lake family of chips for more traditional laptops, it is logical to assume that these platforms will be validated with the 5G modem.

Intel has also not made any official comments on the matter so far. 

MediaTek has not revealed much information about its T700 5G modem and it is even unclear whether the chip will be built by a foundry, or by Intel itself. What also remains unclear is whether Intel has completely abandoned its modem development (even though it remains some critical 5G modem related IP) and will rely on third-party modems onwards, or just decided to use a solution from MediaTek for the time being.

Anton Shilov is the News Editor at AnandTech, Inc. For more than four years, he has been writing for magazines and websites such as AnandTech, TechRadar, Tom's Guide, Kit Guru, EE Times, Tech & Learning, EE Times Asia, Design & Reuse.