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Intel Corp. this week entered into a strategic agreement with Rockchip in a bid to expand its family of affordable SoFIA mobile application processors for tablets and low-end smartphones. Under the agreement, Rockchip will design a SoFIA chip for inexpensive Google Android-based tablets. Intel and Rockhip will sell the processor to their customers.

The two companies did not reveal a lot of information about the new processor, but said that the SoFIA system-on-chip will be based on four Intel Atom-class processor cores as well as Intel's 3G modem technology. It is unclear whether the upcoming quad-core SoFIA will feature the Silvermont, the Airmont or the Goldmont micro-architectures. The new quad-core SoFIA 3G part is expected to be available in the first half of 2015 and carry an Intel’s brand-name. It will be targeted primarily at entry and value tablets. Like other SoFIA offerings, the quad-core product will be made by a contract manufacturer.

With today's announcement, the Intel SoFIA family is now made up of three different offerings, including the dual-core 3G version expected to ship in the fourth quarter of this year, the quad-core 3G version that is expected to ship in the first half of 2015, and the LTE version, also due in the first half of next year.

An Intel Atom system-on-chip

As the tablet market continues to expand with greater choice of screen size, form factor and price, the strategic agreement with Rockchip also enables Intel to ramp new customers with a broader portfolio of products faster.

Pricing for the quad-core SoFIA 3G part will be disclosed at a later date, and like the broader Intel SoFIA family, it is expected to be relatively low. Under the agreement, both Intel and Rockchip will sell the new part to OEMs and ODMs, primarily into each company's existing customer base.

"The strategic agreement with Rockchip is an example of Intel's commitment to take pragmatic and different approaches to grow our presence in the global mobile market by more quickly delivering a broader portfolio of Intel architecture and communications technology solutions," said Brian Krzanich, chief executive officer of Intel. "We are excited to work with Rockchip. With today's announcement we've added yet another derivative to the Intel SoFIA family, and we expect to have them all in market before the middle of 2015. We are moving with velocity to grow Intel's offerings for the growing global tablet market."

The Intel SoFIA family was added to Intel's mobile product roadmap late last year and includes Intel's first integrated applications processor and communications platform.

Tags: Intel, Rockchip, SoFIA, Atom, Silvermont, Goldmont, Airmont, 3G

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