Intel Announces ‘Project Athena’ Certification Initiative for Advancing Laptop Design

Intel Announces ‘Project Athena’ Certification Initiative for Advancing Laptop Design

Alongside its launch of the new Ice Lake platform, Intel today is also announcing Project Athena, a new certification initiative to help drive advancements in laptop design, capabilities, and user experience. With Athena, Intel aims to work with manufactures to improve both hardware and software in order to address the needs of an increasingly mobile and demanding user base.

Citing examples such as business owners, freelancers, realtors, busy parents, and “micro influencers” (god help us), Intel argues that these individuals often use the same device for both work and entertainment, are frequently on the go and need to be able to work in any situation, and require reliable connectivity and long battery life. In short, today’s notebooks often don’t meet these needs and Intel believes “there is an opportunity for the laptop to better address the needs of the future.”

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While specific details are still scarce (we hope to hear more from Intel during its events this week at Computex), the basic idea its that Intel has developed new “key experience indicator” (KEI) metrics that it claims address these emerging device requirements that current products aren’t meeting. The company will share these metrics with its manufacturing partners to help guide future laptop design, and then Intel will test and certify these laptops. Initial KEIs include:

  • consistent responsiveness on battery
  • 16 hours or greater of battery life with local video playback, or at least 9 hours in a mixed-use “real world performance condition”
  • wake from sleep in less than 1 second
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In terms of testing performance and responsiveness, Intel is continuing its theme of focusing on “real world” benchmarks and evaluations. The company will look at testing battery life with “realistic” screen brightness and workloads, measure performance of commonly used applications rather than synthetic benchmarks, and ensure high performance while on battery power, so that users can rely on consistent performance in any situation.

Intel plans for Project Athena to be a multi-year initiative, with testing and requirements changing with technological development and user needs. In its initial implementation this year, Intel is evaluating “six key areas of innovation:”

  • Instant Action: Modern Connected Standby and Lucid Sleep features implement fast wake with a simple lid-lift, push of a button or quick fingerprint recognition.
  • Performance and Responsiveness: Systems based on Intel Core i5 or i7 processors with Intel Dynamic Tuning Technology, at least 8GB DRAM dual channel mode and at least 265GB NVMe SSD including Intel Optane memory H10 options.
  • Intelligence: Including features such as far-field voice services and support for OpenVINO and WinML. Upcoming designs based on 10th Gen Intel Core processors bring broad scale intelligent performance to the laptop with Intel Deep Learning Boost for approx. 2.5X AI performance.
  • Battery Life: Including fast-charging capabilities over USB Type C, integration and optimization of low-power components and co-engineering support for power efficiency.
  • Connectivity: A fast and persistent connection with Intel Wi-Fi 6 (Gig+) and optional Gigabit LTE. Connect to billions of USB Type C devices with Thunderbolt 3, the fastest and most versatile port available.
  • Form Factor: Touch display, precision touchpads and more in sleek, thin-and-light and 2 in 1 designs with narrow bezels for a more immersive experience.
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Overall, there are 23 feature and performance requirements that manufactures must meet. Verification will consist of initial self-checks by OEMs, followed by multiple performance and battery life checks from Intel.

If a laptop is “Athena certified,” users will know that it meets a certain level of mobility and capability, and of course the device manufacturer will enjoy some marketing help from Intel.

Initial Project Athena Systems

Intel is launching the Project Athena initiative this year, and highlighted some of the first certified systems during Computex. These include the Acer Swift 5, Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, HP Envy 13 Wood Series, and the Lenovo Yoga S940.

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About The Author

Jim Tanous

Jim is the Managing Editor at PC Perspective, handling media production and administrative duties. He also runs TekRevue, a review and tip website focused on consumer technology and software, and is a contributing writer at The Mac Observer. Jim lives in the Cincinnati area with his wife, son, and two-and-a-half cats.

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