Intel ships multimode LTE modem, unveils LTE module

"Intel Inside" now extends to multimode LTE modems aimed at tablets and smartphones as the vendor makes an impressive play for a part of the chip market currently owned by Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM).

Intel WWAN M2

Intel's M.2 LTE module. (Photo courtesy of Intel)

Intel's XXM 7160 LTE modem is already being used in the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 in Asia and Europe, and the company also announced its PCIe M.2 LTE wireless data modules will ship in 2014 tablets and Ultrabooks from various manufacturers.

Intel introduced an LTE-only modem chip last year, but the 7160 is a tremendous leap forward. Not only does the new chip provide 2G/3G/LTE voice and data, but it also supports 15 LTE bands for global roaming. Further, it is voice-over LTE (VoLTE) capable.

The chip is the latest effort by Intel to break into the mobile market, and leverages the company's purchase of Infineon's wireless chipset unit for around $1.4 billion in cash in 2010.

The only other chipmaker currently offering a multimode LTE-capable chip is Qualcomm. The San Diego company's RF360 front end solution, a system-level approach that addresses cellular radio frequency band fragmentation and enables a single, global LTE design for mobile devices, was announced in February at the 2013 Mobile World Congress. However, GigaOm noted that rivals such as Broadcom, MediaTek, Marvell and Nvidia are working on similar multimode products.

By unveiling a line of PCIe M.2 LTE modules, Intel is making it easier for device manufacturers to add wireless connectivity to their product designs. The M.2 modules also support up to 15 LTE frequency bands and include support for Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) based on the Intel CG1960 GNSS solution.

The company also unveiled an integrated radio frequency (RF) transceiver module, the Intel SMARTi m4G, which was developed in cooperation with Murata. Intel contends the module's design enables a reduction in overall component count of more than 40 components as well as reduces the required PCB area by 20 percent.

"As LTE networks expand at a rapid pace, 4G connectivity will be an expected ingredient in devices from phones to tablets as well as laptops," said Hermann Eul, vice president and general manager of Intel's Mobile and Communications Group.

The chipmaker has its eye on the emerging LTE Advanced market as well, promising that its forthcoming XMM 8260 modem chip, slated for introduction in 2014, will add features such as carrier aggregation and faster speeds. The 8260 will also support both TD-LTE and TD-SCDMA, making it suitable for use in China wireless market.

For more:
- see this Intel release
- see this AllThingsD article
- see this VentureBeat article
- see this GigaOM article

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