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Intel lays out strategic mobile roadmap

Intel CEO on performance, price, power management

By , Network World
February 28, 2012 09:42 AM ET

Page 2 of 3

All this, he said, Intel will bring to the smartphone market with an expansion of its Atom mobile processor line. The expansion not only includes new chips, but an accelerated development process intended to shove Moore's Law into high gear in a competitive, fast-growing market.

Intel will release its Medfield Atom chip, the Atom Z2460 running at 2GHz this year, with companion communications chipsets; the Atom 32580 will follow, doubling the Medfield's performance, and chipsets for faster HSPA and for LTE. For the "value" market -- where consumers don't or won't spend a lot of money -- Intel will offer the Atom Z200, with a 1GHz processor, making possible Intel-powered phones with a retail price tag of under $150, Otellini estimated.

For Atom at least, Intel is abandoning the comfortable two-year cycle of silicon advancements. In 2012, the Atom chips will use a 32-nanometer process; in 2013, 22-nanometer; and in 2014, a 14-nanometer process. And that will, in turn, require heavy capital investments in its chip foundries.

Intel just weeks ago at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) unveiled a full Atom-based reference design for smartphone makers and operators, with an 8-megapixel camera that can snap 10 pictures in less than a second, and record 1080p video. Both Motorola and Lenovo had pledged to make use of it. This week, on stage with Otellini, France's Orange, a mobile carrier, Lava International, an fast-growing mobile phone maker in India, and ZTE demonstrated Intel-powered prototypes, all running Android and all closely following the Intel reference design.

And Visa announced it has certified Intel's smartphone reference design, and the Atom Z2660 for use with Visa payWave, the credit card company's mobile payment technology that uses a short-range radio called near field communication (NFC). Users can simply wave their phone in front of a payment terminal to pay for dinner or buy accessories for their new Intel-inside phone.

The phones will also be able to securely transmit payment information to a payment terminal and can be set up to connect to Visa's mobile payment provisioning service, which is a way for banks and other financial services companies and mobile carriers to download Visa account information and the payWave application, all over the air to a secure chip on an NFC-equipped Intel hone.

During questions, Otellini brushed off queries that probed for more specifics in Intel's plan. One reporter asked what he would do to convince big Android handset makers like HTC, as well as Apple, to consider the Atom. "I think the devices here at Mobile World Congress and at CES will light a fire under those companies," he said.

"We have ambitions not to be a minor player," he said.

Another questioner noted Otellini had not talked about multi-core CPU, which parallelize its operations to make it faster, and wondered why.

"I don't think it matters," Otellini said. "What matters is the overall system performance." And Intel can hold its own with any rivals when it comes to that, he suggested. He referenced an earlier chart that had showed Intel's Atom chip besting five rivals in a range of performance tests. "Our chart compared the Intel one-core with two- or four-core [from other chipmakers].

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