Today Intel announced that it is opening new Project Athena Open Labs in Taipei, Shanghai, and Folsom California, to test and certify the new Athena designs that will come to market in 2020.
Intel announced Project Athena, a new initiative designed to usher in the next wave of powerful laptops, at CES 2019. The program is reminiscent of Intel's Ultrabook initiative that pushed the transition to thin-and-light designs, but Athena focuses on increasing performance and responsiveness within the form factors we're accustomed to, meaning the company isn't pushing for thinner devices. Athena-based designs will also deliver up to 20 hours of battery life, near-instant resumption from sleep states (the laptop will pop to life immediately when you open the lid), 5G connectivity, and AI technologies to improve productivity. These new devices will come to market from laptop OEMs, but Intel will co-develop and certify the products.
It's easy to see this push for what it is: a new class of laptops to address the rise of Qualcomm Snapdragon-powered Always Connected PCs (ACPCs), but that should help usher in a new wave of innovation. Intel says the first fruits of this program will come to market in the latter half of 2019, so we expect to see new designs debut at Computex later this month. 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.
Intel plans to continue co-developing Project Athena products with its partners over time, which requires collaboration and certification of all aspects of the designs. That's where the new Project Athena Open Labs come in. Engineers at each facility will "test, tune, and provide recommendations to improve power and performance capabilities across a broad range of laptop components and categories, such as audio, display, embedded controllers, haptics, SSDs and wireless" at the locations.
OEMs, ODMs and IHVs will begin to submit their devices in the coming weeks. Intel expects these new designs to come to market in 2020, but we'll be sure to hear more about the first-gen models at Computex 2019.