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The iPhone 4's signal processing logic board (seen here) sports an Infineon 36MY1EE. Intel is purchasing Infineon's wireless business and will now take over design and production of these kind of chips.  (Source: ZDNet)
Move may mark the start of the x86 smart phone invasion, though

As previously reported, Intel has been pursuing an acquisition of Infineon Technologies AG's wireless unit.  Infineon AG, spun-off in 1999 from Siemens AG, has seen lots of recent business making broadband signal processing chips for numerous Android smartphones and for the iPhone.

The deal is now official.  Intel plans to close the deal by calendar Q1 2011.  It will purchase Infineon's wireless unit, WLS, for $1.4B USD in cash (a vastly smaller sum than its recent $7.68B USD acquisition of the world's top antivirus software maker, McAfee).

The deal does not include much of Infineon's R&D or fabrication business.  It also does not cover the company's ARM CPU offerings, which it's hoping will soon gain traction in Android smartphones.

The move gives Intel a mobile wireless communications platform, which it can potentially employ with Atom platform x86 processors as part of a system-on-a-chip (SoC) solution for smartphones.  That SoC package could also employ hardware-security using intellectual property from McAfee.

Currently there are no smartphones on sale with x86 processors (current smartphones use the alternative ARM architecture).  Intel hopes to soon change that, and the assets from Infineon help prepare it for its upcoming battle in the smartphone sector.

Intel promises to play fair, though and to continue to support ARM customers like Apple.  The company's press release states, "WLS will operate as a standalone business. Intel is committed to serving WLS' existing customers, including support for ARM-based platform."

The acquisition could also help Intel add wireless 3G or 4G connections to its netbook chipsets.  Infineon and Intel's press release indicates that they are currently gunning for WiMAX as the 4G (fourth generation wireless) technology of choice.  Sprint, the first carrier in the U.S. to deploy a widespread 4G network uses WiMAX, but the nation's top network Verizon is betting on LTE for its 4G effort.  Infineon has also looked into LTE technology in the past.



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well...
By omnicronx on 8/30/2010 12:04:51 PM , Rating: 2
This is bad news.. for everyone except Intel...

If you can beat em, buy em and slow down progress and make your currently irrelevant mobile products relevant..




RE: well...
By Pirks on 8/30/2010 1:01:54 PM , Rating: 2
Bad news? How come competition between x86 and ARM is bad now?


RE: well...
By intelpatriot on 8/30/2010 2:12:59 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, finally Infineon will be free of the anticompetitive practices of ARM (a company 1/10th it's size) and can choose Intel processors.


RE: well...
By omnicronx on 8/30/2010 2:18:04 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly heh,

Furthermore anyone and their dog can get an ARM license and make chips. Competition already exists, between arm manufacturers. Considering what has been accomplished over the past few years in the mobile space, I'm certainly not complaining.

Intel has not exactly done anything groundbreaking over the past many years. Heck if it were not for AMD, we could still be in the netburst era.


RE: well...
By IvanAndreevich on 8/30/2010 6:05:57 PM , Rating: 2
Uhhh what? Intel could still have had performance leadership with Core 2 architecture running @ around 4 GHz (which it's easily capable of). Instead, we are on the respin of Nehalem by now, and getting ready for the next tock in the cycle. Intel has been the one innovating in the CPU arena for a while now.

People will not upgrade to new CPUs if those new CPUs aren't significantly better. Therefore Intel will always compete - against their own older models at the very least.


RE: well...
By ekv on 8/30/2010 11:02:36 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Intel could still have had performance leadership with Core 2 architecture
not quite, but I understand your point. I'm looking forward to AMD offerings but SandyBridge does look impressive. I'm hoping AMD at least closes the gap a healthy fraction.
quote:
People will not upgrade to new CPUs if those new CPUs aren't significantly better
I disagree. If there were no AMD, or if Hector RUInZ was still at the helm crippling AMD, then we would still be at the proverbial netburst architecture. Intel would improve their CPU's no doubt, but the rate of improvement would be nowhere near what we have when AMD is at least nipping at Intel's heals. [Which is to say, Intel would have no business reason to improve at a high rate, unless it were for competition; say what you like about Intel, but they've proven capable at business].


RE: well...
By Strunf on 8/31/2010 7:56:41 AM , Rating: 2
If the were no AMD there would be someone else... there are dozens of companies with enough expertise to make CPUs! They don't do it cause Intel and AMD keep developing new products and for them it doesn't pay out in the end.


RE: well...
By menting on 8/30/2010 1:02:21 PM , Rating: 2
buying them is better than suing them any day


RE: well...
By hyvonen on 8/30/2010 1:03:55 PM , Rating: 2
How does this slow down progress?

If anything, it will speed up the plans for getting Intel chips into cell phones - that's progress.


RE: well...
By omnicronx on 8/30/2010 2:14:34 PM , Rating: 2
Do you have any idea who the two largest customers of Infineon wireless unit are for smartphone use?

Samsung and Apple.

Please explain to me how the largest non ARM cpu manufacturer buying out a company that two of the biggest arm consumers for smartphone based devices rely on is a good thing for the phone industry?

This is just a powerplay move by Intel, hoping to remain relevent in the wireless industry which they could not do by making their own products alone.

If Intel wanted to enter the mobile space with a relevant competing product, I would have no problem with that. Competition is a good thing, but this product is nowhere to be seen. There is no competition as Intel is quite far away from releasing a competitive product..

For some reason Intel thinks they can fit a square into a triangle hole, x86 is not suited for the mobile space and this is not going to change. Why Intel thinks they can continually try and shove it down our throats I have no idea.. (first it was x86 gpus with larabee now its x86 mobile variants with who knows what).


RE: well...
By Strunf on 8/31/2010 8:09:17 AM , Rating: 2
You think Intel=x86? Intel like many other huge companies has a foot in many markets maybe you should look a bit better to what Intel really is.

What I find funny is how you seem to have a problem with Intel but not with ARM, isn't ARM pretty much dominating the smartphone market by a even larger margin than Intel is dominating the x86 market?... as for your larrabee I sure have no problems with seeing one more GPU maker to bad it failed to be competitive!


Yeah right.
By pugster on 8/30/2010 12:05:00 PM , Rating: 1
Remember that they sold off their XScale processor business because it wasn't generating enough revenue, now they are buying off another company selling ARM processors.




RE: Yeah right.
By nafhan on 8/30/2010 12:38:11 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
The deal does not include much of Infineon's R&D or fabrication business. It also does not cover the company's ARM CPU offerings, which it's hoping will soon gain traction in Android smartphones.
Intel didn't buy a company selling ARM CPU's, and there is no indication that Intel will be producing ARM CPU's. They bought the baseband division of a company that is still going to produce ARM CPU's after the sale.


Alternative architecture?
By Exodite on 8/30/2010 1:02:02 PM , Rating: 3
I wouldn't call ARM an 'alternative architecture' for todays smartphones. In the realm of embedded and low-power controllers ARM is the de-facto standard while Intel is non-existent.

Moorestown/Medfield will bring some interesting competition to the table to be sure, and this acquisition gives Intel more tools for their SoC designs, but it'll be a good, long while in smartphone years until we see any actual products based on those architectures.




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