Intel is set to announce an advanced cooling solution for its ultra-light Athena laptops at CES 2020, according to a report from DigiTimes (via TechPowerUp). Intel is quoting a 25-30% improvement in cooling with the new techniques. With CPUs reaching their limit in thinness, chip makers are starting to do things like multiply the number of cores, up the operating frequency, and go to multi-chip solutions. It makes sense, then, that new cooling solutions will start to emerge.
Traditional cooling solutions usually live in one half of a laptop. Intel’s solution will make better use of all the space available inside a laptop, distributing cooling across both halves. According to DigiTimes, these Athena laptops will use vapor-chamber cooling to pull the heat off of the parts. Then, graphite sheets will dissipate the heat. These graphite sheets will hide behind the laptop screen, where there’s plenty of surface area and little cooling to do. The vapor chambers will connect to the graphite sheets through the laptop hinge.
What is Project Athena?
Project Athena is an initiative Intel announced at CES 2019 and has since dropped a few more hints about what we can expect from it. Project Athena is a set of standards that Intel wants to introduce for laptops. These laptops will need to deliver at least nine hours of battery life in real-world conditions. That means things like browsing the web over Wi-Fi at a 250-nit screen brightness. That battery must be able to charge from four hours in under 30 minutes through USB Type-C fast charging. Intel wants promises of Project Athena to come from real-world use; laptops often promise massive battery life, but only under unrealistic conditions.
Athena laptops must also offer Wi-Fi 6 and Thunderbolt 3 USB Type-C ports, narrow screen bezels, a backlit keyboard, and a minimum 1080p screen resolution. These devices also have a strict set of standards for fast access. They’ll need to wake from sleep in under a second and browse the web a second later. Requirements for biometric login (fingerprint and facial recognition) will help that login speed along. Finally, these devices will use Intel’s 10th-gen Core i5 and i7 CPUs, at least 8 GB RAM, and a minimum 256GB NVMe SSD.
Intel is working with companies like Dell, HP, Lenovo, and more to bring the initiative to life. Laptops like the Dell Inspiron 14 5000, , and are already sporting the “Engineered for Mobile Performance” badge that Project Athena awards to certified laptops. It seems like the cooling solution we discussed above is not a requirement for first-gen Project Athena certification, but it could become a requirement down the line.