Call of duty, modem warfare: Taiwanese Qualcomm rival MediaTek teams up with Intel for first stab at 5G laptop chipset

Reminding Chipzilla of days gone by...

Taiwanese fabless semiconductor giant Mediatek has made its first foray into the PC-based 5G connectivity market, bringing welcome competition to an area dominated by Qualcomm.

Mediatek's T700 5G modem, developed in conjunction with Intel for computers powered by Chipzilla’s silicon, will support standalone and non-standalone Sub-6GHz 5G networks.

This is relatively fresh ground for MediaTek: it is almost exclusively known for its smartphone and tablet chipsets, which are frequently appropriated by vendors as a cost-effective alternative to platforms from Qualcomm. MediaTek is also fairly prolific in the IoT space, with chipsets powering Amazon’s Echo smart speakers, among others.

And while we wouldn’t exactly call it a stranger to the PC arena, MwediaTek's involvement here has mostly focused on providing processors for Arm-powered Chromebooks. Qualcomm, on the other side, has proven much more involved in the traditional computing space, with the 8cx line powering various Windows 10 devices. It’s therefore no surprise that the first vendor to ship a 5G laptop, Lenovo, used a Qualcomm modem.

That notwithstanding, MediaTek has already made some strides on the 5G front, introducing its Dimensity chipsets last year, which have already appeared on devices from Xiaomi, Realme, and OPPO.

MediaTek said the first T700 laptops will hit shelves in early 2021. There’s no word yet as to which OEMs have signed up.

Intel has not been out of the 5G modem game for long - this time last year Chipzilla sold its modem business to Apple, later complaining the deal had been made at "a multi-billion dollar loss" - which it alleged in December last year was "the only way forward in the face of Qualcomm’s relentless efforts to warp the playing field". How long ago that all seems now. ®

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