Sixteen weeks after Intel washed its hands of its 5G smartphone modem business, selling the segment to Apple for $1 billion, it said today that that it is teaming up with Taiwanese semiconductor company MediaTek to deliver 5G modems for PCs by early 2021 – ending its public equivocation on whether it would be producing them itself.
“Intel will define a 5G solution specification, including a 5G modem to be developed and delivered by MediaTek”, the company said in a public statement today, adding that it will “provide optimization and validation across the platform and lend system integration and co-engineering support to further enable its OEM partners.”
Dell and HP will be among the first OEM customers, MediaTek said.
MediaTek: Deal Highlights Our Expertise
MediaTek President Joe Chen said. “5G will usher in the next era of PC experiences, and working with Intel, an industry leader in computing, highlights MediaTek’s expertise in designing 5G technology for global markets. With this partnership, consumers will be able to browse, stream and game faster on their PCs, but we also expect them to innovate with 5G in ways we have not yet imagined.”
As a first step in the partnership, Intel will define a “5G solution specification” focused on deployment in key laptop segments, the chip giant said.
It added: “MediaTek will be responsible for the development and manufacturing of the 5G modem. Intel will develop and validate platform-level hardware and software integration, including OS host drivers.”
The two companies are also working with Fibocom on the development of M.2 modules optimized for integration with Intel client platforms, they said: “As the first module vendor for this solution, Fibocom will provide operator certification and regulatory support, as well as lead 5G M.2 module manufacturing, sales and distribution.”
The 5G PC modem will be “based in part” on the Helio M70, which was rolled out this year as part of MediaTek’s integrated 5G system-on-chip for high-end smartphones.
Intel had kept the option open (and apparently some IP) for developing 5G chips for PCs/laptops when offloading its smartphone 5G chip business to Apple over the summer, with CEO Bob Swan saying that the agreement “enables us to focus on developing technology for the 5G network while retaining critical intellectual property and modem technology that our team has created.”
Today’s agreement comes four days after Intel published a public apology to OEM partners for delayed CPU shipments, adding that it is “increasing our use of foundries to enable Intel’s differentiated manufacturing to produce more Intel CPU products.”
MediaTek reported revenues of NT$67,224 million (£1.7 billion) in Q3, up 9.2 percent from previous quarter on “higher shipment in new smartphone products and seasonal demand for consumer electronics.”