Samsung's embrace of Intel's Project Athena casts doubt on Snapdragon-powered notebooks

Samsung announced two new notebooks, and seemingly re-announced the Galaxy Book S powered by Intel instead of Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8cx.

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Samsung announced two new ultraportable notebooks at the Samsung Developer Conference in San Jose on Tuesday—the Galaxy Book Flex and Galaxy Book Ion, both of which pack in Samsung's QLED display technology and 10th generation Intel Core (Comet Lake) processors. 

The duo is touted as being co-engineered with Intel as part of the chipmaker's Project Athena initiative, intended to mainstream fast charging, resume, and boot, as well as machine learning and multi-touch capabilities. Intel has also collaborated with HP and Lenovo on Athena-spec designs for business notebooks.

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The Galaxy Book Flex is available in 13.3" and 15.6" variants, and features a 360-degree hinge, allowing for it to be used as a tablet. Samsung's trademark S Pen is included for stylus input. The 15.6" optionally includes an NVIDIA GeForce MX 250. Both support up to 16GB LPDDR4 RAM, with up to 1 TB NVMe SSDs, and include support for Wi-Fi 6

Likewise, the Galaxy Book Ion is a traditional ultraportable notebook, available in the same sizes and with the same processors and general capabilities, though dropping S Pen support. The larger of the two includes an empty SODIMM slot and M.2 SSD slot for expansion.

All of the models include Thunderbolt 3 support, and UFS/MicroSD combo slots, and include 720p webcamps with a dual-array microphone.

Whatever happened to the Galaxy Book S?

Curiously, in press materials, Intel is touting the existence of an Intel Lakefield-powered Galaxy Book S, with LTE connectivity. Samsung announced a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx-powered Galaxy Book S in August, which was slated for release in September. As October draws to a close, the product appears to have been scuttled in favor of Intel's silicon.

Microsoft's x86-to-Arm inline emulator, which provides compatibility for legacy Windows apps, has been seen in action before, though has never worked out quite right. Samsung's Galaxy Book 2 left reviewers disappointed, due to lagging software performance relative to Intel-powered kit.

Incidentally, this marks the second time in as many years that a Windows on Arm product has turned out to be vaporware, with Windows Server on Arm missing in action two years after being announced

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Image: Samsung