Intel to prioritize Atom mobile chipset biz

Apple reportedly works to diversify chipset relationships
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Intel is going to give more attention and a higher priority to its Atom-based mobile chipsets, putting the business on par with its Core business for PCs, another indication that the company is trying to speed up its shift to mobile under CEO Brian Krzanich.

Krzanich and President Renee James held their first briefing with reporters since taking the helm in mid-May and James said that Intel will be putting Atom "on a level playing field" with Core. That means, according to a Wall Street Journal account, that Intel will start using its most advanced manufacturing processes sooner to produce Atom silicon, which will help reduce its power consumption, boost performance and cut production costs. Krzanich also said Intel is holding weekly meetings on Atom to speed development of new versions, according to Bloomberg.

A key theme for Krzanich so far--and a strategic imperative for Intel--is to speed up its plans to crack into the mobile market, which is currently dominated by companies that licenses processor architecture from ARM Holdings, especially Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM). As more computing shifts away from PCs and toward smartphones and tablets, Intel will need to shift its focus to remain the world's largest silicon maker. Krzanich has said he understands this, and wants Intel not only to focus on traditional mobile devices but other forms of computing.

One of the areas Intel plans to put effort into is wearable computing, a field epitomized right now by Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Glass. However, the space may become more crowded as the likes of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Samsung Electronics and others move toward making smart watches. 

"I think you'll start to see stuff with our silicon toward the end of the year and the beginning of next year," Krzanich said of wearable computing devices, according to Reuters. "We're trying to get our silicon into some of them, create some ourselves, understand the usage and create an ecosystem."

The Intel chief also said the company is open to expanding its small foundry business, in which it contracts with other companies to build their chips. There has been speculation Intel might decide to strike such a relationship with Apple. "If there was a great customer that we had a great relationship with laptops and other mobile devices, and they said look, we'd really love you to build our ARM-based product, we'd consider it," Krzanich said. "It depends on how strategic they are."

In other chipset news, according to the Journal, which cited an unnamed source, after years of trying Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. struck a deal with Apple to start making some of its iPhone and iPad chips in 2014. However, despite the deal, Samsung will remain the primary supplier of Apple's mobile chips through next year, the report noted. Apple, which competes heavily with Samsung in smartphones, has been working to diversify its chipset suppliers, the report noted. The companies declined to comment, according to the Journal.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Reuters article
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this separate WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this third WSJ article (sub. req.)

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