Intel 10nm Ice Lake Architecture And Project Athena Laptops To Drive Exciting New Mobile PC Experiences

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Intel Project Athena - Initial Spec, Experience Indicators, And Conclusion

Intel's Ice Lake processor platform will be the foundation for the first wave of devices developed under Project Athena. If you’re unfamiliar with Project Athena, it is an innovation program Intel has put in place in collaboration with an array of OEM partners across the entire PC ecosystem, designed to usher in a new wave of intelligently designed mobile devices that offer a number of key benefits in areas like consistent performance, battery life, connectivity and user experience.

Intel project athena overview

An annual spec will be designated under Project Athena, and machines will not only have to hit that spec, but conform to a number of key experience indicators, or KEIS. Intel will work with partners to co-market systems that meet the spec. Finally, Intel will also offer engineering support and verify some of the project requirements. Essentially, Intel is trying to do with Project Athena, what it did with the Ultrabook initiative a few years back.

Intel project athena target specs

There are six main pillars to Project Athena’s target specs. Machines must properly support connected stand-by, and allow for quick logins and rapid wake from sleep. A Core i5 processor is the minimum baseline, and the system must offer consistent performance whether plugged in or operating on battery power. More than 8GB of RAM and NVMe storage are a must and systems must offer far field voice services and support for various AI frameworks. Project Athena systems must also offer a “worry free day” of battery life (16+ hours of local video playback or 9+ hours of web browsing), with quick-charge capabilities, as well as premium form factor and design provisions, like thin display bezels, backlit keyboards, touch, precision touchpads, and pen support, among other features.

Intel athena key experience indicators

To quantify the Key Experience Indicators, Intel is doing something different with Project Athena. Whereas benchmarking and performance testing is typically done with pristine, clean systems to ensure repeatability and consistency in the results, Project Athena systems will be evaluated and performance claims verified under real-world conditions, with typical display brightness (250 nits), and all background tasks and services enabled, as per the OEM’s default system image.

Intel project athena verification requirements

OEMs must meet 23 different requirements under Project Athena, and perform many self-checks regarding power and performance. However, OEMs must also designate which metrics adhere to the vision and goals of Project Athena.

Intel project athena performance and power requirements

Intel will then verify 15 responsiveness (performance) and 3 battery life metrics to ensure compliance and backup the OEM’s results. The ultimate goal is to ensure a consistent, high-quality user experience, across a range of every-day PC use cases.

Intel athena assessment test suite

The actual Intel assessment suite consists of 10 Office 365 tasks, 4 browser page loads, and loading a video via a web browser to test responsiveness. Battery life-related tasks include browsing the web via Chrome, video playback in transit, and maintaining a connection via modern standby. The performance and responsiveness assessments are performed when on battery and AC power to ensure consistency across both, and power usage is measured during active use and while in standby to ascertain whether or not a full day of user up-time is possible.

Intel 10th Gen Core Ice Lake Processor Badges

It has taken longer than Intel would have liked to get its 10nm Ice Lake processors out the door and into the hands of consumers. In addition, the competitive landscape is certainly more treacherous for Intel today, with competitors like AMD and Qualcomm attacking the mobile market from all angles. The technology Intel has in-store, in addition to the goals set forth by Project Athena, however, should help the company maintain its solid footing in the mobile market, while also advancing the PC platform forward. PCs based on Ice Lake should offer tangible enhancements with across the board upgrades over previous generation machines, not only in terms of performance, but the overarching user experience as well.

The first Intel Ice Lake powered laptops will ship in market this summer, with Project Athena designed machines arriving for the holidays.

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