Project Athena

Intel flexed its enormous power as one of the PC industry’s leading component manufacturers, roughly eight years ago, to improve the quality of the world’s laptops introducing the one word that is Ultrabook. For the industry’s latest laptops Intel poured hundreds of millions of dollars into a marketing campaign but the publicity came with a condition. The exacting standards for thinness, weight, responsiveness and battery life should have meet by those laptops. Intel’s trying to take laptops to the next level with a new program called Project Athena again.

Within a few years, the PC industry signed on, after facing down the sizable challenge of the then-amazing MacBook Air, the quality of Windows hardware had undeniably changed for the better. Incredible machines like the Dell XPS 13 and HP Spectre x360 emerged from the melee.

As, Intel is trying to take laptops to the next level with a new program called Project Athena. But, today we are learning that the most important component: an actual brand, has been forgotten by Intel. Project Athena isn’t going to be a meaningless marketing campaign, as it was discovered earlier this month.

Project Athena laptops will need to deliver 9 hours of real-world battery life, browsing the web over WiFi. Along with, their screen set to a level of brightness (250 nits) that a user might actually have in the real world, according to Intel. And we know that this is very important, because laptops we have today are outstanding but when a PC maker says your new machine gets 24 hours of battery life, they are actually measuring that by playing back a video that barely taxes the processor, with WiFi off, and low screen brightness to boot. Who will use laptop like this?

The battery life is just the beginning, we are learning this, now. Thanks to connected standby, Project Athena laptops will need to wake from sleep in under a second, be ready to browse the web in under two seconds. And they will have the same sort of responsiveness on battery that they have when plugged into the wall. Other specifications include, touchscreen displays, precision touch pads, the latest WiFi 6 and Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, and enough RAM (8 GB) and speedy NVMe solid state storage (256 GB) to tackle the basics for most users.

Another important thing is that Intel is not leaving Intel these things up to the manufacturers. It will test the crap out of some of these things itself, namely battery life and responsiveness, as Intel believes they’re the basis for PCs that actually satisfy modern users’ needs.

Intel is basically trying to keep manufacturers from cheating, in many of the ways they typically cheat. When actually they’re cheaping out on one of the necessary components of a machine. It will surely raise the bar each year,according to the Intel,  like it did with Ultrabook, to make sure the “Key Experience Indicators” of a good laptop experience are being satisfied with each new machine.

There is no consumer-facing Project Athena brand, Intel says. So you will not be able to see in stores. There will be no clear incentive for manufacturers to actually sign on either, so that they cannot actually compete to build new Project Athena machines and raise the bar for the entire industry.

They do get access to Intel-developed technologies sooner, according to the Intel, like its low power displays, and access to labs and symposiums, but those were already status quo for its partners. If it already profits from that intellectual property without doing so, then it is hard to imagine that Intel will suddenly keep ideas like that to a narrower range of partners. It may incorporate a brand or a marketing campaign later, as it is just the first year for Project Athena, Intel says.

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