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Infineon selling cellphone chip business to Intel?

updated 11:05 am EDT, Mon May 17, 2010

Intel may get control of iPhone, iPad cell chips

Infineon is considering selling its cellular chipset business to Intel, a rumor from within the industry claimed Monday. Intel is believed to be very interested in getting into the mobile chip business and has supposedly made this known to Infineon. The latter's CEO, Peter Bauer, is characterized by the FT as opposed to a deal since it would be giving away a core business, but low revenues may create pressure to make a deal.

Neither Infineon nor Intel has agreed to comment on the story.

A switch to Intel would give it a major coup in the cellphone market but could also create conflicts of interest. Infineon currently provides the 3G chipsets for many key devices, including the iPhone and iPad as well as some BlackBerries and Nokia phones. All of these use main processors based on ARM technology, however, where Intel is increasingly pushing its own chips like the Atom Z600 for mobile devices. Concerns exist that Intel could give favorable pricing to those who buy any cellular hardware bundled with Atom processors.

by MacNN Staff



  1. siromega

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I'd love to see intel do this..

    With all their chip fabrication experience, maybe they can be more aggressive on getting RFCMOS - we're still at 65nm. 45nm (and 32nm) RFCMOS is going to be needed to get good battery life out of 4G/WiMax devices.

  1. LenE

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Too big a hurdle

    The speculation of Intel buying Infineon and pulling the same shenanigans that they did with the Core i-series chipsets (w/ nVidia) to push the Atom into the mobile space is really stupid. This would instantly kill all of Infineon's business, as Broadcom and others make these cellular radios and system chips that tie with the ARM architecture. ARM IS the mobile market. There is no OS that runs on the Atom currently that could become competitive in the mobile space. Bringing Android or iPhone over would require a translator for existing programs. Also, the Atom would need on-par graphics capabilities, which intel has repeatedly failed to deliver (witness the whole nVidia retribution). The performance of an Atom-only Infineon mobile platform would suck hard for the foreseeable future.

    They could offer deep discounts to tie Infineon chips with the Atom, but they have to remain competitive with other existing players in the ARM space or their business disappears. The actual handset makers would need an enormous incentive to switch to an intel architecture, as right now the Atom can't touch the ARM for power efficiency. Battery life is king for mobile units.

    The overlooked possibility is that intel may want to return to the ARM architecture that they used to have with X-Scale. This would give them a better chance to go into the mobile space, and perhaps make a multi-core ARM / Atom chip that could have the ability to bridge the gap between mobile and desktop platforms, running x86 and ARM code at native speeds.

    -- Len

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