How Intel's Project Athena will shape the future of laptops

Intel Project Athena
Image Credit: TechRadar

Intel is envisioning a bold new future for laptops with its Project Athena initiative, which the company first announced at CES 2019.

Project Athena will see Intel offer guidance to equipment and PC component manufacturers to create future laptops that are smarter, faster (thanks to 5G) and more power efficient – which will hopefully mean much longer battery lives.

This week, the wraps came off the plan, as Intel gathered with hundreds of members of the PC manufacturing industry in Taiwan. This is where one of the Intel's Project Athena Open Labs is located – specifically in Taipei – with another in Folsom, California.

How Project Athena will work

Intel's Project Athena Open Labs will work as a resource for equipment and component manufacturers to test their products. Intel has brought engineers with system-on-chip (SoC) and power optimization expertise to these Open Labs, and they'll conduct testing and offer guidance to manufacturers on how to improve their products.

The goal is ensure a wide range of Project Athena-compliant components that original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can depend on to work in more power-efficient laptops. Component manufacturers will submit their products to the Project Athena Open Labs to see if they can meet the specifications. These components can include everything from displays, audio devices, haptic feedback motors, SSDs, wireless modules and more.

By covering the whole range of components, the program should allow OEMS to easily choose components for devices that follow Project Athena specifications and more or less guarantee better power efficiency.

Project Athena is aimed toward 2020 and beyond, with future devices featuring 5G connectivity and AI in mind. But, we won't have to wait until 2020 to get the first laptops offering Project Athena specifications.

The first batch of Project Athena devices is slated for the second half of this year. And, while Project Athena is focused on the components, not the complete computers, the news hasn't said which chips will be at the heart of the experience. Intel's Ice Lake processors could be coming at the end of the year, and with their 10nm architecture, they may be an ideal candidate for more power efficient laptops.

Mark Knapp

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