Intel expects China partners to migrate off ARM platform

Intel expects China partners to migrate off ARM platform

12 NOV 2014

Intel expects its new chip partners in China to move away from ARM technology, the most widely used platform for mobile devices, and switch to its architecture within two to three years.

Intel announced last month it was investing $1.5 billion for a 20 per cent stake in Tsinghua Unigroup, which controls Chinese mobile silicon players Spreadtrum Communications and RDA Microelectronics. Fast-growing Spreadtrum is a fabless semiconductor company that develops mobile chipsets for mobile devices based on ARM architectures.

In May Intel also formed a strategic partnership with Rockchip, a fabless semiconductor company in China and a mobile-internet system-on-a-chip (SoC) solution provider. The agreement aims to expand the range of Intel-based chips for entry-level Android tablets.

Intel chief executive Brian Krzanich said that while the agreements with the firms don’t keep them from using ARM technology, he believes that they will only use Intel’s platform within three years, Reuters reported.

He argued the chip makers can differentiate themselves on performance and features by using its architecture since both Qualcomm’s high-end chips and MediaTek’s low-cost chips are based on ARM.

Reuters reported Krzanich as saying, “If you’re a small guy trying to compete, it’s tough to be in that battle.”

When he took the helm in May 2013, Krzanich vowed a bigger push on mobile, but its third-quarter results announced a month ago show he still has much work to do. The mobile and communications group posted an operating loss of just over $1 billion over the three-month period, eclipsing the $810 million deficit in Q3 2013.

Analyst Jack Gold thinks it will take Intel at least three or four quarters before it can turn the mobile and communications group around.

“It’s betting heavily on SoFIA – Intel’s SoC with an LTE radio built in – finally making it competitive with integrated ARM-based mobile chip vendors like Qualcomm, NVidia and MediaTek,” he said.

Gold said a new design win with Asus as well as the partnerships with Rockchip and Spreadtrum, however, should give it a boost and “dramatically increase the use of Intel chips in the mid to lower-end of the smartphone and tablet markets”.

Author

Joseph Waring

Joseph Waring joins Mobile World Live as the Asia editor for its new Asia channel. Before joining the GSMA, Joseph was group editor for Telecom Asia for more than ten years. In addition to writing features, news and blogs, he...

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