Every week, Zheng Jiong (ZJ), Intel China’s senior director of Client Customer Engineering in the Client Computing Group (CCG), and his team of engineers make the hourlong drive across Shanghai to meet with their counterparts at Lenovo.
They make a beeline to the new Advanced System Innovation Lab deep inside Lenovo’s offices. It’s here that engineers from both companies pool their collective brainpower to solve some of the world’s toughest hardware and software challenges – the ones that pave the path to lighter, sleeker and ever-more-powerful laptops that many consumers and businesses depend on every day.
This new 750-square-foot lab, which opened in July, is filled with cutting-edge tech tools and laptop prototypes in various stages of development. It’s one of many joint engineering labs across the world populated by Intel and Lenovo engineers.
Other co-engineering labs include locations in Zizhu and Pudong, both in China.
Joint labs like these allow engineers to focus on solving tough issues – ones that need to be addressed to prevent product delays or empty holiday gift boxes.
Said ZJ: “We share a long and illustrious history of deep engineering collaboration with Lenovo.” He added that Intel has dedicated engineers tasked with specific roles in enabling and developing new designs together with their lead collaborator. “We work together very well and are thankful for the innovation support Lenovo has given us through joint labs like these.”
Joint Engineering Vital to Innovation
Joint development isn’t new to Intel and Lenovo.
It’s also not limited to just one type of collaboration. Along with Lenovo, Intel collaborates with other PC OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and hardware and software vendors across the world to pathfind new technologies, find root causes of problems and solve tough engineering issues that lead to better PC experiences.
They have co-engineered numerous technology generations spanning CPU, power management, thermal validation and other PC components.
In a recent example, Intel engineers collaborated with their Lenovo counterparts in developing an advanced display driver that could power two high-resolution organic LED (OLED) screens in a single device.
Without this driver, the laptop would simply not function, as advanced driver technology that could power both screens at once across numerous usage modes was practically non-existent prior to 2023.
“Across a development cycle that spanned months, Intel teams have been wonderful collaborators in working with us on firmware and driver support that can power not one, but two, native displays simultaneously,” said Zhijian Mo, director of Platform Design and Development in the Intelligent Devices Group, Lenovo. “This work was critical to the development of our platform.”
That hard work paid off nicely: At CES in January, Lenovo revealed the Yoga Book 9i as the world’s first full-size OLED dual screen laptop, earning an impressive 50 industry and media awards at the show.
Lenovo’s stunning device sports a pair of 13.3-inch OLED PureSight screens that function across multiple usage modes. The accolades from top tech reviewers came just as quickly, as PCMag remarked how the Yoga Book 9i is “a fantastic alternative to carrying a laptop plus an external second screen,” crowning it with an Editors’ Choice nod.
In another example of joint development leading to faster PCs, Intel and Lenovo teams collaborated with top memory makers to drive higher memory module speeds.
Thanks to Intel and Lenovo’s joint expertise – supported by PC memory leaders – teams were able to boost LPDDR5 memory speeds on Lenovo’s past, current and future PC platforms:
- A 15% boost in memory speeds on Lenovo’s Alder Lake PCs.
- An even bigger 17% boost gen-over-gen in memory modules on Lenovo’s Raptor Lake PCs.
- Clever engineering underway to boost the memory speeds on Lenovo’s forthcoming Meteor Lake PC range.
Fast Power-On of Early Meteor Lake Silicon
Labs like this also help accelerate the entire system validation process – critical engineering steps necessary to ensure the system’s hardware and software perform seamlessly. Think of these venues as a necessary proving ground to root-cause engineering issues discovered during early development stages as ideas turn into proof-of-concepts and later on, plan of record (POR) projects.
At this lab – and others like it – Lenovo engineers are finding faster ways to power-on new CPU silicon.
“When we received Meteor Lake and powered it on for the first time, the entire process took about four hours,” said Mo from Lenovo, explaining how past power-on methods could typically take days before the CPU was stable enough to boot into the operating system without any hitches.
“On our second attempt, we powered the system on within 10 minutes, which is simply incredible from an engineering point of view,” Mo said. “This was possible thanks to Intel and our Lenovo engineers working seamlessly together.”
ZJ explains how this lab provides both Intel and Lenovo a creative space to incubate new technology that gets refined through deep co-engineering that include design pre- and post-simulations plus cross-functional reviews with other hardware and software collaborators.
New ideas that were tested in this lab have led to a wide array of innovation in laptops we use today.
For example, teams here found ways to shrink the circuitry by 17 percent to free up interior space.
Another idea led to an impressive 21 percent boost in thermal capacity – leading to cooler laptops from Lenovo.
Lastly, teams were able to boost battery life by 28 percent in select Lenovo PCs thanks to fresh innovation from the joint teams.
“We have an innovation roadmap identified with Lenovo that will delight customers with new experiences on future client PC platforms. About 30 percent of ideas on that roadmap are going through proof-of-concept testing in our lab now on Meteor Lake systems, with the remaining 70 percent earmarked for inclusion into future PC platforms,” ZJ added.
Co-Engineering Extends to Future PCs
As the joint teams add the finishing touches to the Meteor Lake platform launching on upcoming Lenovo devices, work is already underway on pathfinding Lunar Lake, Intel’s next disaggregated (multi-chiplet) design.
In January, Intel in its earnings call revealed Lunar Lake remains on track for production readiness in 2024.
“We are already working on the Lunar Lake platform with simulations underway right now in our labs. It’s a very special project that involves detailed co-engineering efforts between both our teams,” said Mo.