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Intel stakes phone hopes on Manitoba

WiFi to appear alongside EDGE, WCDMA protocols

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Intel President Paul Otellini touted a Manitoba Xscale phone as he outlined the company's cellular ambitions yesterday. Otellini told Intel's Fall analyst conference that the company expected to ship 10 million Xscale phones next year.

Otellini said that Intel had memoranda of understanding with five of the largest ten carriers in the world, although the only one he named was Orange. "2002 and 2003 were years of design wins," said Otellini. "We're hoping for a bigger market share than 10 million units would establish" added CEO Craig Barrett.

It's a start, but Intel knows it has a long way to go. With 400 million phones shipped a year, 10 million isn't a significant volume. But it could be an important beach head: high-end smartphones take a much smaller proportion of the total, and with its good relationships with the main commercial OS vendors Symbian, Palm and Microsoft, Xscale is set for a much higher profile.

Intel wants to "extend our protocols into EDGE and WCDMA" next year, and was going to debut ultra-low power versions of 802.11 for smartphones, said Barrett.

Manitoba is a collaborative effort between Intel and several partners, and integrates a DSP. Although Intel invented the DSP, it was Texas Instruments which picked it up and ran with it, and TI's OMAP platform is the runaway leader.

The first Manitoba, the PXA800F, was released in February priced at $35 in 10,000 quantities.

Otellini also said Intel was working flat out to regain its lead in Flash memory, which it lost this year. Otellini attributed the problems to "a pricing misstep which cost us market share and revenue." He described it as "unacceptable" and vowed "we are working feverishly to improve that". ®

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