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Intel and MediaTek teaming up to create 5G laptops

(Image credit: MediaTek)

Your future laptop won't just have Intel inside — a 5G modem could be joining it too.

Intel and MediaTek are teaming up to bring the latter's 5G modem to laptops, as part of a push to develop always-connected PCs. With MediaTek's modem inside, laptops will be able to connect to cellular networks at any time, including on the faster 5G networks that are currently being built out across the U.S.

The first laptops with MediaTek's modems won't arrive until 2021. Dell and HP have both signed onto the effort, and they're expected to be the first laptop makers providing devices featuring the Intel-MediaTek component.

The modem used in these PCs will be based on MediaTek's Helio M70 5G modem, which the company unveiled this past May. The Helio M70 is part of an integrated system-on-chip designed for smartphones that includes a 5G modem alongside other mobile processing components.

Both Intel and MediaTek have some catching up to do with always-on computing. Qualcomm is pushing laptops with integrated modems, too. Last December, Qualcomm unveiled its Snapdragon 8cx processor for always-connected in PCs, and in May, the chip maker joined forces with Lenovo on Project Limitless, an effort to build a 5G laptop. The Project Limitless machine should debut in 2020, giving it a head start on the 2021 time frame that Intel and MediaTek are targeting.

Intel has been pursuing its Project Athena initiative which attempts to design laptops that reflect the shifting needs of consumers. Among those needs is reliable connectivity, so this partnership with MediaTek looks to be an offshoot of that effort.