Intel Not Rushing Atom SoCs with Baseband Capabilities to Market

First Intel Atom SoCs with 4G/LTE Due in 2014

by Anton Shilov
01/28/2013 | 11:44 PM

Even though Intel Corp. not only owns Intel mobile communications (IMC) group specialized on development of wireless solutions for different types of applications and even demonstrated all-digital Wi-Fi transceivers, it does not look that the company is on track to quickly integrate wireless technologies into its system-on-chips for smartphones. The first SoCs with 4G/LTE from Intel are only going to emerge sometimes in 2014.

 

“We are now shipping our single-mode data 4G/LTE baseband to customers and over the course of the year will begin delivering multi-mode data and voice modems to customers, giving us a full complement of competitive technologies to grow our device business,” said Paul Otellini, chief executive officer of Intel, during a conference call with financial analysts earlier this month.

Intel got its IMC group when it acquired a wireless division from Infineon about two years ago. Intel admits that the IMC team is known for not necessarily being first to market, but being good at engineering a very solid, cost-efficient and competitive wireless solutions.

The problem for Intel is that it is trying to enter the market of smartphones with chips that do not feature any type of baseband capabilities, which makes them considerably less competitive than solutions from companies like Qualcomm, ST-Ericsson and some others. Obviously, the company can sell standalone modems, but integration of multi-chip solutions takes more time and costs more, which shrinks Intel’s design win opportunities.

At present, the company expects the first “all-Intel” mobile platforms with 4G/LTE capabilities to become available in early next year with highly-integrated Atom SoCs, presumably with 4G/LTE features to emerge sometime in 2014.

“First 4G/LTE phones, I would expect to have launched early next year, principally around MWC 2014. We believe we have a very competitive solution. […] In terms of integrated solutions, you'll see higher levels of integration from us next year,” said Mr. Otellini.