Apple notebook manufacturing partner Quanta Computer and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT's) Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have announced a five-year joint research and development project to develop a future generation of portable computing devices.

The $20 million project, called TParty, aims to develop "smart" portable devices that eliminate the need for users to manage information transfers, security, upgrades and backups, Quanta and MIT said in a statement. Achieving this goal will require reengineering and extending current technologies, developing new interfaces and exploring new ways to access and manage information, the statement said.

Through these efforts, the TParty project will aim to develop a class of computing device that goes beyond the computing and communication capabilities of personal computers, the statement said.

Few specifics of the joint research and development project have so far been released, except for the allocation of financial resources and a broad research mandate. Under the agreement announced on Friday, the two partners plan to establish a research team that will be based at CSAIL's lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The partnership brings together one of the world's top universities with one of the most important hardware makers in the IT industry.

Quanta produces roughly one-fourth of the world's notebook computers, manufacturing them by the millions each year under contract for Apple, IBM, HP, and Dell. The company is currently building a $150 million R&D centre in Taiwan that can house up to 7,000 engineers. This is expected to open during the third quarter of this year, according to Quanta.