Intel, Nokia deal seen as boost for Intel's mobile device chip aspirations

Intel and Nokia announced an alliance that could finally help Intel crack the market for computing devices smaller than laptops.

The companies said Intel will license 3G HSPA baseband communications technology from Nokia to help it provide a complete package for portable device manufacturers, beyond just WiFi and WiMAX. The two will work together on device and chip architectures that combine high-performance computing with broadband technology and collaborate on future platforms for mobile devices. in addition, Intel and Nokia will collaborate on open source software for Linux-based devices.

Intel has tried to compete in the cellular baseband chip market in the past, ultimately selling off its XScale product line to Marvel.

"Intel rightly understands that it needs to be able to offer a competitive cellular modem to fill in its communications product offerings (e.g., WiFi, WiMAX)," wrote Jack Gold, founder and principal analyst of J. Gold Associates, in a research note. "This is critical in the netbook and Mobile Internet Device (MID) space where it has targeted its Atom processors, and where it hopes to eventually make a play for smart phones as well with future, lower powered models of Atom. Having 3G HSPA cellular chip competence is therefore critical. Intel would not specify which chip family it would announce products for or when, other than to say it is for the IA set of products. However, we expect the first products using this new capability will be Atom-based systems, and we expect first products to be released in early to mid 2010."

Adam Leach, device principal analyst at advisory and consulting firm Ovum, said the deal gives Nokia "an opportunity to explore new types of mobile broadband devices and ensure its smartphone offerings are not sidelined by manufactures entering from the PC market."

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