PCs with cellular connectivity inside are having a bit of a moment right now. On top of recent buzz around Qualcomm's Always Connected PCs, Intel is announcing this morning that it will collaborate with Dell, HP, and Lenovo to put its XMM 8000 family of 5G New Radio (5G NR) modems inside PCs running Windows. Intel will also work with Microsoft to further this effort. The company expects the first shipping products using this silicon to begin shipping in the second half of 2019.
Critically for Intel, those PCs will likely run Windows with its CPUs alongside its modems. Intel will preview a concept version of such a PC at Mobile World Congress next week. The company describes its preview system as a detachable 2-in-1 running an early 5G modem and an undisclosed eighth-generation Core i5 CPU. The blue team expects to demonstrate some of the potential of 5G and its progress on producing compatible modems by live-streaming video to a PC over a 5G network at the event.
5G wireless networking broadly promises higher bandwidth and much lower latency than current cellular technologies, though practical large-scale demonstrations of the next-generation wireless standard are still in the works. For its part, Intel expects that PCs are ideal to cope with the firehoses of wireless data that 5G might uncork, and it offers visions of untethered VR anywhere in the world, the ability to grab hundreds of megabytes of files in seconds from parking lots, and multiplayer gaming while in a moving vehicle as just some of the situations a 5G-ready PC might need to cope with. Considering the expected arrival date of Intel's 5G modems, however, that future remains a ways off.