Something to look forward to: Project Athena is a new initiative to bring about a new class of thin laptops. In addition to boasting improved performance, an Athena laptop must move from a sleep to wake state instantly, be always-connected, have improved AI capabilities, 5G connectivity, and a battery life that can reach 20 hours.

Intel has announced that it is opening three Project Athena Open Labs in Taipei, Shanghai, and Folsom, California that will help vendors develop laptops that are compliant with Project Athena specifications.

First revealed at January's CES 2019 event, Project Athena laptops are set to use low-power U- and Y-series Intel CPUs and weigh under three pounds. All of which suggest a rival for Qualcomm's Snapdragon-powered PCs. While Intel obviously develops its own hardware, independent vendors will be able to submit parts to the labs to ensure they meet Project Athena specifications.

“Each lab is supported by experienced engineers to test, tune and provide recommendations to improve power and performance capabilities across a broad range of laptop components and categories, such as audio, display, embedded controllers, haptics, SSDs and wireless,” writes Intel. Once the assessments are complete, a list of optimized components will be made available to OEMs for consideration.

Companies will be able to start submitting their components to the labs for testing over the coming weeks, with the labs set to begin operations in June. The first Athena laptops are scheduled to hit the market in the second half of this year, and we can expect to see some of these previewed at Computex at the end of the month. Many of the designs will feature Intel’s first 10nm processors—Ice Lake.