Tencent and Intel: Delivering on a Bold Vision for Education in China
In 2020, our team at Tencent approached Intel with an ambitious vision: create a cloud-centric PC that could transform education for China’s more than 170 million students. Educators and families were demanding laptops built specifically for students’ needs, with seamless, personalized access to a rich set of learning experiences, as phones for education was no longer an option.
As one of the world’s largest cloud service providers, Tencent could tap into Intel’s cloud, AI and software expertise, a community of 1.5 million app developers and a WeChat cloud ecosystem with over 1.1 billion monthly users. Ultimately, the cloud, alone, wasn’t enough. We needed to build a full PC platform that would integrate hardware and client capabilities, easily connect to our education suite and personalize experiences for each student.
Only Intel has the hardware expertise and ecosystem relationships to help us achieve our bold vision. These PCs would be the first of their kind in China. They would raise complex technical challenges at the intersection of hardware and software, and they would need to be built from the ground-up in just over a year, in order to meet the urgent demand from students and educators.
After a deep-dive engineering workshop in Beijing, Intel said they were in. Today, these PCs offer a dedicated learning experience out of the box, with Tencent’s education suite of more than 10 million exercises, study and homework apps, online collaboration tools and advanced hardware features—but how did we collaborate with Intel and OEM partners to make it happen?
Joining Cloud-Client Strengths for A New Kind of Education PC
After the first workshop, our teams started meeting every week to design a PC that brings together the best from both the cloud and the client. To achieve that, Intel created its first-ever Linux reference system. The reference system provided an open platform for innovation, but it also led to an inherent challenge for battery life and performance.
Intel tuned and optimized the reference system, balancing workloads between cloud and client to optimize power and performance. For example, containerized AI workloads enable 5-6x faster local AI inference compared to cloud AI inference for performance-heavy tasks like text-to-speech and OCR.
We also partnered with Kylinsoft, a Chinese OSV, to build out and optimize the OS. The resulting stack combines the power of 11th Gen Intel® Core™ processors, cloud-centric Linux OS, custom-built desktop UI and a full education suite with Tencent’s content and apps. By bringing all these layers together, we enable students and educators to choose from a range of educational experiences, integrated with hardware and client capabilities.
Collaborating with HP and Acer to Enable Advanced Features
We relied on Intel’s ecosystem relationships to find the best fit OEM partners: Acer, Haier and HP. These OEMs helped us design advanced features that are in-demand for parents and educators, like blue-light filtering and a warning if students get too close to the screen. With a 2:1 form factor, the PCs are simple and versatile: students just scan their WeChat ID and then choose from their exercises, apps, study modes with laptop or tablet mode.
The Chinese PC education market is booming. We knew it was the right time for us to partner to build a total education PC solution that would provide Chinese students with easy access to the cloud ecosystem. The partnership with Tencent and Intel was the ideal opportunity.
We also brought in ISVs like Magicpie and Tobii to add parental controls and other software features. The partnership eventually grew to include all of these different ecosystem partners meeting bi-weekly to perfect every element of the laptops within our tight timeline.
Together, we hit our goal. These PCs launched in July 2021, bringing a powerful new educational tool to Chinese classrooms. Students, teachers and families trust them to deliver a wide range of learning experiences that empower student achievement.
A Strong Foundation and A Repeatable Model
We believe this partnership provides the foundation for Tencent to become the leader in China’s education market. We can now offer the right PC platform to unleash the innovation of the cloud ecosystem, while making sure this innovation works seamlessly for students and teachers.
It also provides a model that we can potentially apply to other needs and markets. Combining the best of hardware, software and the cloud means we can deliver the best experiences for whatever area we turn to next.
We look forward to continuing our work with Intel and the PC ecosystem, exploring what’s possible when we bring together our strengths in the service of people’s real-world needs.