Today Intel has announced they’ve entered a partnership with MediaTek with the goal of “development, certification and support of 5G modem solutions” for next generation PC platforms. The announcement comes 5 months after the announcement that Intel is selling off its own modem and division to Apple for $1B.

The partnership with MediaTek clears up Intel’s plans for the future of connectivity on PC platforms, and how the company is planning to go forward with supporting cellular connectivity in the next generations of devices.

“5G is poised to unleash a new level of computing and connectivity that will transform the way we interact with the world. This partnership with MediaTek brings together industry leaders with deep engineering, system integration and connectivity expertise to deliver 5G experiences on the next generation of the world’s best PCs.”

-- Gregory Bryant, Intel executive vice president and general manager of the Client Computing

What is surprising about the announcement isn’t that Intel is partnering with an external supplier, but rather that MediaTek has managed to get the design win, rather than the usual suspects such as Qualcomm or Samsung. Under the deal, Intel is said to “define” the 5G solution specification that will be developed and delivered by MediaTek. The wording of the announcement sounds more akin to a semi-custom deal, rather than just MediaTek providing their own product design or part which was on their roadmap. Depending on the specifications and how it diverges from MediaTek’s existing portfolio, the company’s willingness to enter such a deal with Intel might be a reason they won the contract, as maybe Qualcomm and Samsung wouldn’t be that open to such a collaboration.

While MediaTek will be wholly responsible for the design and manufacturing of the modem, Intel will be working on the platform-side integration as well as OS host driver development. Fibocom will also be cooperating with Intel and MediaTek to develop M.2 modules with the new chipset and integrating them with Intel’s client platforms.  

The first products of the partnership are said to be targeting availability in early 2021.

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  • Morawka - Monday, November 25, 2019 - link

    Mediatek is a fabless semiconductor designer. I'm curious as to who will actually manufacturer these modems and at what node. Reply
  • khanikun - Monday, November 25, 2019 - link

    I'm guessing companies with their own fabs will manufacture their own with license agreements, while TSMC will manufacture for other fabless companies. I'm just guessing, as I have no idea who is doing what in terms of fabs. Reply
  • PeachNCream - Tuesday, November 26, 2019 - link

    I just don't see a lot of mainstream use cases for cellular connectivity in PC form factors. Everyone has a phone and though it's typically a Google f*ck-your-privacy-up-the-ass creeper data mining Android POS, you can typically get computing tasks done using it rather than dragging along a laptop anyway. After all, it isn't like Microsoft respects your privacy either since they turned WIndows into a user monetization platform in order to be just as screwed up as Google. Reply
  • Smartcom5 - Thursday, December 19, 2019 - link

    This here must be another harsh yet evident brick in the wall for every keen observer …

    Since while Intel doesn't get tired to propagate they wouldn't have left the mobile wireless-market after having sold their mobile wireless-division to Apple – and that they would be still a major player in that Internet of Things-bubble (which is still awaited since a while) and other Always-on- and Connected-everywhere- classes of devices (like on their Project Athena-class notebooks with their Always-connected-ability), they're doing the exact contrary again;

    Leaving the mobile wireless-market altogether, by auction off the remaining technology-assets and patents for exactly this classes of devices they claim they will and would be empowering in any future – and starting some collaboration and partnership with MediaTek instead, which is aimed to… *wait for it* … Bringing 5G to PCs!

    I'm really the only one seeing Intel saying one thing while doing the exact opposite here again – and that it only seems like that behaviour of theirs runs like a golden/common/guiding thread through all of their latest actions since quite a while, or am I? Right?!

    I wouldn't be at all surprised if Intel has laid some eyes upon MediaTek itself to get their act finally together on anything 5G after their series of underwhelming engagements on this scope and field of interest – and that this very collaboration is just some ballon d'essai for exploring options for a Intel-acquisition and later take-over on MediaTek.
    Reply
  • JayNor - Monday, June 29, 2020 - link

    Intel stated they have an LTE modem chiplet that can go in their Lakefield Foveros stack. I'm wondering if MediaTek will build a compatible chiplet version of 5G modem for Intel. That makes sense to me since Intel said there are more versions of Lakefield in development. Reply

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