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Intel's Shenzhen cash-splash signals mobile push

Chipzilla to establish innovation centre and $100m fund

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Intel reaffirmed its commitment to China at IDF on Wednesday by announcing a new Shenzhen-based innovation centre and a $100 million fund both designed to promote and accelerate the development of Intel-based devices in the country.

Chipzilla chose symbolically to host this year’s developer forum in the global manufacturing hub of Shenzhen. In this dirty Pearl River Delta city the Intel Smart Device Innovation Center will be established to provide OEMs, ODMs and developers with all the tools and support needed to commercialise product ideas.

Backing up this commitment, CEO Brian Krzanich announced a $100m Smart Device Innovation Fund from Intel Capital China to be ploughed into the development of 2-in-1s, tablets, smartphones, wearables, Internet of Things-related tech and more, the firm said.

Intel has invested a lot of R&D dollars in the Middle Kingdom over the years – for example, it was Intel Labs China that developed the SD card-sized Edison computer – but little of it has been spent down in the manufacturing heartland of Guangdong province.

However, driving momentum and building a partner ecosystem around its chips, especially in the mobile computing space, has become an imperative, especially with rival ARM-designed processors the number one choice for many China manufacturers.

The decision to launch operations in Shenzhen was a “must”, if it’s not already too late for the chip giant, according to Forrester analyst Charlie Dai.

“Shenzhen is one of the most important regions for electronic equipment manufacturing in China, and has a long and glorious history in PC and feature phone devices,” he told The Reg.

“In the age of the customer, it's extremely important to get as close as possible to your ecosystem to respond to market dynamics. That's why Intel held IDF there this year and has made further investments.”

Also showcased at IDF to prove Intel’s commitment to mobile chip development were its new LTE platform, the XMM 7260. This supports both TD-LTE and TD-SCDMA protocols and will come China Mobile-ready when it’s launched in the second half of the year.

China Mobile is never a bad partner to have on your side, given it’s the world’s largest operator by subscriber numbers with over 760 million, and has been working on a major 4G base station roll-out.

Intel also showed off its SoFIA mobile SoCs for entry level smartphones and tablets; announced the availability of the Quark and Atom chip-based Intel Gateway Solutions for IoT; and announced that Edison will now feature dual-core Atoms based on its 22nm Silvermont architecture. ®

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