Intel eyes up Infineon for purchase
Sating wireless cravings
It seems that Intel is looking to acquire the wireless arm of chip maker Infineon, with a view to getting its processors wirelessly enabled and taking on ARM in the mobile phone space.
Rumours about a deal between the companies have been circulating for a while, along with suggestions that Infineon would make a nice buy for Apple too*. But now a no less august publication than the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the companies are in talks and approaching a deal.
Citing the ever-present "people familiar with the situation", the Journal reckons that Intel will have to pay around €1.5bn for the unit, which makes baseband and platform chips for GSM-family handsets (GSM/WCDMA). Such a deal would allow Intel to provide manufacturers with a complete chipset, in the way that Qualcomm already does.
Intel did very well with its Centrino branding, which incorporated Wi-Fi, but has failed to carry that success into WiMAX despite pouring money into the technology. Meanwhile Qualcomm's Gobi (GSM/WCDMA/CDMA) chip has been doing very nicely, and just about every mobile phone built sports at least one ARM core inside.
Even Infineon has an ARM Architecture licence, but that's for the security aspects of ARM's micro architecture and not related to the wireless bit that Intel is interested in. Intel would combine Infineon's wireless capabilities with its Atom platform to create a mobile combination that would happily wear the Centrino brand.
We know that Intel has been busy porting Google's Android OS onto its x86 base, allowing it to run nicely on an Atom chip, so a manufacturer would be able to source the stack of chips from Intel and pick up an OS at the same time.
Infineon's management has gone on record saying that it would prefer not to sell off the business, but they would say that during the negotiating phase. ARM entirely dominates the mobile industry, and it would be interesting to see an alternative architecture, even if it's one we're already familiar with. ®
* Many years ago there was a Mac application which would, every morning, suggest a random company that could buy the beleaguered Apple. Given the company's reversal in fortune we look forward to an iPhone app which could tell us who Apple will be acquiring next.
Can this work?
Hmmm. The Intel x86 architecture contains an awful lot of historical and upwards-compatibility cruft that an ARM core does not. Surely this means that it'll always either consume more power, or be slower, than an ARM-based system of equivalent performance. In the mobile arena this will translate into Atom handsets being heavier than ARM-based ones, or having shorter battery life.
I really can't see x86 compatible CPUs catching up in the mobile world.
Coffin Nail on Mobile WiMax
I think this is as much about built in Modems on Netbooks, Laptops etc.
Looks the two main Mobile WiMax rollouts and Imagine's Pseudo Mobile WiMax rollout in Ireland.
I think Fixed WiMax is a successful niche market, but low volume as it's one Radio set per building and one per gadget/laptop. (We have up to 2 Netbooks and 7 laptops, 3 smart phones, 4 handheld consoles and one Archos PMP all on two Wifi points, but only one outdoor Fixed Wireless Broadband radio.)
Mine's the one with LTE specification and roadmap in the pocket.
Bye-bye Infineon Mobile Phone Platforms?
I wonder what this could mean for Infineon's line of ARM-based mobile platforms? Their suite of dev tools are one of the best to work with (much better than Qualcomm's for one). Shame if it got out of market just because Intel can't get wireless right.
Don't burn babe don't!