Intel’s Project Athena Pushes Higher Industry Standards For Ultrabooks
Intel was the first to coin the term ‘Ultrabook’ for high-end subnotebook computers. Spending millions of dollars into a marketing strategy aimed for the industry’s latest most powerful laptops that were less bulky without compromising on battery life overall. Project Athena as announced by Intel seeks to revisit this old definition and make true on certain promises left undelivered.
The Ultrabook laptops had unintentionally brought with them an industry standard demanding lightweight, thinner dimensions, effective performance and battery life. The Industry had, on the contrary, thrived with these new set of restrictive parameters that gave birth to a new breed of ultra-thin laptops capable of rivalling some of their desktop counterparts.
Gone were the days of plastics. These new machines now sported a more premium metallic form factor and were installed with new hardware that made the lag that had always accompanied laptops a less frequent occurrence. Powerful laptops like HP Spectre x360 and XPS 13 by Dell pulled ahead in the competition.
Intel has dedicated itself to challenge the norm again by taking laptops even further with Project Athena. However, unlike last time, Intel did not showcase a tag or name like ‘Ultrabook’ to market to the world. Project Athena’s focus is not on an inexpensive marketing gimmick but to hunt for the big industry-wide lies that have pervaded the market since its inception. Battery life sits at the forefront of such a lie.
Project Athena sets the minimal benchmark for laptops to deliver 9 hours of real-world battery life while browsing over the internet on Wi-Fi, at a brightness of 250 nits. Laptops have woefully failed to deliver on the longer battery life that had been promised before and thinner laptops have a stronger tendency to skimp out on the said feature. Manufacturers that advertise their products with 24 hours of battery life, with video playback that barely puts any strain on the CPU while Wi-FI is turned off and brightness at its lowest, do not portray an accurate real-life scenario of daily use.
Battery life is just the start. Project Athena will require a laptop to also boot from sleep within a second and be ready for web browsing in 2 seconds flat while having the same performance output regardless of whether the laptop is plugged in or running on battery. Intel set the basic hardware requirements with touchscreen displays, accurate trackpads, ample amount of RAM (8GB) and an NVMe SSD (256GB) equipped within the laptop.
Intel, taking it upon itself to enforce the standards set by them to actually satisfy the consumers’ needs. The company promises to discourage practices that have manufacturers cheap out on essential parts of a system. ‘Cheating’ as Intel put it will not be tolerated and the ‘Ultrabook’ brand will have its standards set high. Project Athena is not an advertisement or marketing scheme that the users shall ever encounter, dedicating themselves not to be in the face of every consumer but guaranteeing a good experience that they will feel.
There is just one glaringly obvious problem. OEMs and manufacturers have no real incentive or reason to actually adhere to these standards that may lead to the rise of the industry standards. Unlike what Project Athena is made to be, an industry standard for every laptop device to follow, the aforementioned OEMs will simply submit those laptops which are bound to pass the tests. The same laptops which are top of the line and cost just high.
Project Athena is at its infant stage and Intel may in the future decide to incorporate some marketing strategy and brand name for the campaign to follow it. This comes along with Intel’s announcement of its 10th Gen Intel Core Processors that will power the latest generation of Ultrabooks.