Intel, MediaTek To Develop 5G Laptop Modems For 2021

'Having 5G-enabled devices will absolutely change the game for them and change the game for the channel community,' Future Tech Enterprise CEO Bob Venero says of Intel's plan to build 5G laptop modems with semiconductor company MediaTek.


Intel said it has partnered with semiconductor company MediaTek to develop 5G modem solutions for the laptop market, set for an early 2021 launch.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company made the announcement on Monday, saying that 5G "will open the door for new PC experiences and the way we connect with the world around us." The initiative is closely aligned with Intel's Project Athena, which aims to push a new wave of innovation in ultra-thin laptops for a segment of consumers it called the "mobile go-getter."

Dell Technologies and HP will be the first OEMs to use the 5G modem solutions in their laptops, according to Intel.

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[Related: Intel Exec: Project Athena Offers New Refresh Opportunities For Partners]

"5G is poised to unleash a new level of computing and connectivity that will transform the way we interact with the world," Gregory Bryant, Intel's top PC executive, said in a statement. "This partnership with MediaTek brings together industry leaders with deep engineering, system integration and connectivity expertise to deliver 5G experiences on the next generation of the world’s best PCs."

Bob Venero, CEO of Future Tech Enterprise, an New York-based Intel partner, said Intel's push to equip future PCs with 5G modems falls in line with the trend of employers pushing for increasingly mobile workforce who can work from anywhere. This means big opportunities for partners, he added.

"Having 5G-enabled devices will absolutely change the game for them and change the game for the channel community," Venero said.

As part of the partnership, Intel will define a 5G solution specification — specifically for laptops to start — and MediaTek will develop and manufacture modems based on that specification. Another important aspect is the development and validation Intel will provide from a platform level for hardware and software integration, which will include the operating system host drivers.

Intel's role will also include providing system integration and co-engineering support to its OEM partners, which the company has already been doing through Project Athena. In addition, Intel and MediaTek are working with wireless component provider Fibocom to develop M.2 modules that are optimized for integration with Intel client platforms.

The first 5G modems are expected to hit the market in early 2021, according to Intel.

The development underlines the change in Intel's 5G strategy after Apple acquired a majority of the chipmaker's smartphone modem business for $1 billion in July. In September, after CRN reported on the departure of Intel 5G executive Cormac Conroy, the company told CRN that it was "evaluating the best options for delivering a platform-level solution for 5G in modern laptops."

Meanwhile, the company is continuing to build products to support 5G network infrastructure.

"In addition to having the industry’s broadest portfolio of 5G network solutions and a fast path to deployment, Intel is also driving open source software and standards-based technologies that will bring 5G to life," the company said in a statement.