September 9, 2010

Intel To Unveil New Chip For Smartphones

Intel is planning to unveil a new chip with built-in graphics aimed at the smartphone market.

The move would put the company into direct competition with ARM, who designs the majority of smartphone chips.

Intel will unveil this new chip at its Developer Forum conference in San Francisco next week.

ARM also has plans to launch a new chip that could potentially be five times faster than its current model.

Intel's new chip would result in smartphone visuals and remove the need for a separate graphics chip.

A spokesperson for the company told BBC that its new range of chips, including Sandy Bridge for PCs and Moorestown for phones, were important steps for the company.

"[It is important] in the context of the continuing move to mobility as it allows for tighter integration between the CPU and graphics components, delivering better performance and power management," they told BBC.

Although power usage is not a major issue for desktop PCs, the problem becomes more significant for laptops and smartphones when having more power might shorten the life of the battery.

In 2008, Intel attempted to expand its mobile computer market by launching its Atom chips.  These chips were still too large and power hungry to be acceptable for the smartphone market.

"This is part of Intel's desperate charge to get the size and power usage of their chips down," Alex Watson, editor of Custom PC magazine, told BBC News.

Within the next 12 months, analysts believe smartphones will outsell PCs because of the explosive growth in the popularity of the smartphone and a saturation of the PC market.

"The vast majority of smartphones use ARM chips, a UK-based company spun out of Acorn Computers: the people who used to make the BBC Micro," Watson told BBC.

"They only design, rather than make the chips and then license them out. For example, the Apple A4 chip used in its iPad and iPhone 4 is ARM's design."

"ARM are probably one of the least known and most profitable companies in the IT sector," he added.

ARM has just launched a new chip known as the Cortex-A15 MPCore.

This chip will run at 2.5 GHz with a minimal impact on power usage.

Analyst say that this could make iPads and iPhones run five times faster and is "as significant to the smartphone market as the Pentium was to the desktop market."

"The pressure is really on Intel, because they are wedded to the technology that made them rich for the past 30 years," Watson told BBC.

"They are determined to catch up using their existing technology, rather than starting again, but they are very short of time."

"There are almost a million smartphones being sold every day and Intel are not in a single one. If the firm is to remain viable, it needs a slice of that market."


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