On November 25th, on the eve of MediaTek’s official launch of its 5G platform and its first 5G single chip, the Dimensity 1000, Intel was the first to release a big story: working with MediaTek to develop, validate and support 5G modem solutions to create 5G PCs. In addition to MediaTek, Intel’s module partners, Broadcom, PC partners Dell and HP, are joining, and laptops with 5G solutions are expected to be available in early 2021.
This collaboration is no less important than MediaTek’s 5G chip itself. If MediaTek has enriched the chip platform for 5G phones, Intel has used practical action to illustrate the value of 5G to PCs. So why did Intel choose MediaTek? How will Intel itself plan the layout of 5G technology and 5G-era PCs? What role does 5G play in Intel’s innovative Athena program for laptops?
Intel’s partnership with MediaTek on 5G technology is a backdrop for Intel’s announcement in April that it was pulling out of its 5G modem business and selling the assets to Apple for $1 billion.
Many in the industry interpreted Intel as pulling out of the 5G chip business, in fact, a single chip is the integration of multiple chips, the application processor (CPU) is the brain, the modem is responsible for communication protocols, Intel just quit the 5G smartphone modem business. Intel pointed out at the time that the reason was that 5G smartphone modems lacked a clear profit model and the return on investment was not optimistic.
So why did Intel introduce MediaTek as a 5G modem partner? In the author’s opinion, on the one hand, MediaTek has a wealth of industry chain cooperation experience, can easily embed intel PC ecology, on the other hand, MediaTek invested heavily in 5G research and development, 5G modem has reached the world-leading level, in line with Intel’s strategic needs.
From mediaTek’s Dimensity 1000 performance, the integrated 5G modem supports advanced 5G dual carrier aggregation (2CC CA) technology, has the world’s fastest 5G network throughput, achieves 4.7Gbps downstream and 2.5Gbps upstream speed in the Sub-6GHz band, and supports 5G dual-card, NSA/SA dual-mode network. These performance has now surpassed Huawei’s Hays, Qualcomm and other 5G chip providers.
This fits intel’s own plans for a 5G modem business. Although the 5G smartphone modem business has been transferred to Apple, Intel has retained the business of developing modems for non-smartphone applications such as PCs, IoT devices and self-driving cars. Working with MediaTek to develop PC-oriented 5G modems is a reflection of Intel’s clear planning for the modem business.
Continuous focus on 5G technology
Working with MediaTek is a concrete manifestation of Intel’s continued focus on 5G commitment. In the field of 5G network infrastructure, Intel invested heavily in its CPU, memory and other products are the basic modules for building core networks, wireless access networks, and edge computing networks. Intel expects to transform its network by investing in 5G and revolutionizing the way data is transferred and processed to support new 5G terminals to market.
In Intel’s dominant PC space, we are also embracing 5G technology to create a new PC experience in the 5G era. It is worth noting that Intel’s partnership with MediaTek is not simply a procurement and supply relationship, but rather a close collaboration to build a 5G PC ecosystem.
Specifically, Intel develops 5G modem specifications for the PC segment, provides operating system host drivers for cross-platform debugging and optimization, and provides first-line customer and co-design support for OEM partners, including system integration and validation.
MediaTek, on the other hand, tailors develop 5G modems and tested solutions to Intel’s requirements, and collaborates with Intel and Quanta to complete the m.2 module development and carrier certification process. Quanghe is responsible for the development and manufacture of M.2 modules and leads sales and distribution with OEM partners. Finally, Dell, HP and other OEM partners to develop end products, is expected to launch 5G PC in early 2021.
This partnership will help to leverage the expertise of all parties in product development and supply, ensuring that the entire development process is faster and smoother. Intel specializes in computing and system integration (Windows, Chrome, and Linux), and MediaTek’s core expertise is modem and RF technology, while Broadcom has outstanding advantages in module development and large-scale manufacturing management.
As can be seen, throughout the collaboration, Intel is in the position of “commander”, centered on scheduling, combining 5G technology, industrial resources, to create a 5G PC ecosystem. Intel’s own continued investment and deep understanding of 5G is the key to the success of the 5G PC ecosystem. 5G requires more than just a modem, including antenna design, radio signal coexistence, seamless network switching, 5G manageability and security and network configuration solutions that meet overall platform performance and power targets to deliver the best connectivity experience.
5G Empowerment Athena Plan
This 5G partnership reflects Intel’s determination to create a more innovative 5G PC. Back in 2018, Intel launched the Innovative Project Athena program for laptops: from instant response, performance and responsiveness, Intelligence, battery life, connectivity, and appearance are regulated in six dimensions.
Connectivity is one of these dimensions. Intel’s OEM partners have launched more than 100 4GLTE-based 4GLTE-connected PCs in the enterprise, education, and consumer sectors, and dozens more are under development. These all-connected PCs are already sold through carriers such as Verizon, O2, KDDI, and China Unicom.
Intel knows that consumers will want their PCs to adopt the latest technology, and 5G PCs based on the latest 5G technology will be a big choice for consumers. “Just as Wi-Fi revolutionized the PC gaming industry in 2003, we want 5G to be a disruptive technology, too. Therefore, we must provide our consumers and business customers with fully functional 5G solutions. Intel insiders say.
Connectivity is an important part of Intel’s platform vision and Athena’s program, while MediaTek is a leader in cellular with a competitive 5G multimode portfolio. “We believe that by deepening our partnership with MediaTek, Intel-based devices remain the first choice for customers who want the best performance, long battery life, application compatibility, and excellent connectivity.” Insiders say.