What Intel’s Project Athena Means for Consumers

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Intel’s Project Athena is the giant chipmakers multi-company and multi-year effort to revamp ultrabooks and make them more useful for real-world use. What this means is that Project Athen a will set standards for other laptops partnering with Intel to have processors that are fast for work and play, laptops that are quick to wake up, pack high-end features plus excellent battery life to give you a full day of performance – Intel really wants you to ditch your smartphone.

This comes after Intel’s meetings with component makers and other key players in the PC industry including Google, Acer, Dell, Asus, HP, Lenovo, Sharp, Samsung, and Microsoft. Expect to see $1200 laptops but benefits of Project Athena will definitely come to less expensive laptops too. As much as Intel wants to reshape the course of premium notebooks, they also showcase some of their tech with Project Athena.

Features expected in Project Athena array of laptops as standard requirements include fast biometric login process once the laptop lid is opened, excellent battery life that will have users not worry about when next to charge them, a decently bright enough screen for comfortable use when you’re out and about, a high precision trackpad, fast thunderbolt data ports plus mechanisms to let AI software intelligently manage the laptop’s hardware.



Here are some of the minimum specs expected in a Project Athena laptop:

  • ultraslim 2-in-1/Clamshell, weigh less than 1.3Kgs
  • 12″ to 15″ displays, 1080p or more resolutions, plus a three-side narrow bezel
  • core i5 or i7 processors
  • 8GB dual channel DRAM in terms of memory
  • 256GB NVMe SSD storage with optional Intel Optane
  • Wi-Fi 6 Gig+(formerly 802.11x), Thunderbolt 3, plus optional Gigabit LTE
  • backlit keyboard, pen support, precision touchpad
  • AI – WinML support; OpenVINO AI
  • biometric login (fingerprint or face), Modern Connected Standby/ Lucid Sleep and fast wake times from sleep – less than a second
  • over 16 hours of local video playback at 150 nits, over 9 hours real wireless browsing at 250 nits
  • fast charging – charge 4 hours of battery life in less than 30 minutes.

Intel will then conduct their own verifications by ditching benchmarks that correlate with real human behavior such as opening Office 365apps load times or how fast a browser loads sites, streaming, the laptops battery life plus quick charge test and sound tests too.

Intel is showcasing Project Athena at this years Computex show in Taiwan where they’ve unveiled the upcoming Ice Lake Chips that come out of their first processor overhaul – the last time they did this was in 2015.

Why now?

Intel has noticed that most people use their laptops on the go either for personal or work use and based on their experiences, the company wants Project Athena to create devices that people will love and get value from.

Project Athena laptops will be optimized for said users – people who shift between working at an office to places like coffee shops or on their commute home to or from home balancing work and play.

We’re trying to get to a place where we can promise or provide a clear expectation that for the stuff you do, you mobile go-getter, these laptops will last long in active use, and you can get through the day with confidence. Each year we’ll make that greater and greater, and when we hit our north star, it’ll be just like your phone — where you just take it off the charger and don’t worry about it.

“Ultrabooks started premium, and it took seven years before 40% of the market hit thin and light. We want to accelerate that,” Josh Newman, Intel’s general manager of mobile innovation added.

What’s up with the AI?

The new chips carry added improvements for AI including Deep Learning Boost instructions and a Gaussian Neural Accelerator which is a dedicated logic core designed to accelerate AI functions. It runs in the background at very low power so that it performs computationally intensive tasks without killing your battery.

Other features include Intel Dynamic Tuning 2.0 with Machine Learning which ditches the usual all or nothing mode to apply overclocking for dynamic tuning for smart performance management.

Power Consumption

Details remain scarce regarding Ice Lake’s power consumption but what we can presume is that the shrunk processor which is now at 10nm should lower power consumption thus giving laptops longer battery life.

When to expect Laptops the Project Athena

The Lenovo Yoga S940 and the Dell Precision notebook PC were briefly shown off at Intel’s Computex keynote but we should expect the first batch of about 30 very soon.

Conclusion


Will Project Athena laptops be any better? Nobody knows but this effort is a welcome move for consumers as manufacturers will now have to start designing their laptops in line with our experiences and how we use our laptops.

Weirdly, they’ll be no knowing if a laptop is from this project as there will be no feature such as a sticker or something else to reference that the laptop you’re buying is an Athena laptop. Intel is saying they may include a brand later on to avoid this confusion but for later iterations.

 

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