Intel Revving Supply Chain for Mobile Chips: Report

Intel COO Brian Krzanich told Reuters that the chip maker’s fabs are ready for the expected high demand for mobile processors.

Intel reportedly is gearing up its supply chain to handle the expected onslaught of demand for mobile chips that will power such devices as smartphones and tablets.

The chip giant€™s new COO, Brian Krzanich, said in a Reuters story March 13 that he has been focused on reducing the amount of time it takes for Intel€™s various manufacturing facilities to churn out the Atom and Core processors that will be used in the increasingly popular mobile devices.

"We will start to see more and more of our capacity and our output go to things that are mobile, like phones and tablets and other devices," Krzanich told Reuters.

Intel is gearing up for its latest€”and most aggressive€”push into the booming mobile computing space. Most of the devices currently are run on very low-power chips designed by ARM Holdings and manufactured by the likes of Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, Samsung Electronics and Nvidia.

However, Intel for more than a year has been setting the stage to make a run at the smartphone and tablet markets, which analysts have said will only continue to grow. The vendor has rolled out new Atom and Core chips officials say offer the kinds of high performance and energy efficiency needed for mobile devices. That includes its 1.6GHz Atom Z2460 €œMedfield€ chips, which will power smartphones from Motorola Mobility, Lenovo, Orange and ZTE that are expected to hit the market later this year.

During an event at the Consumer Electronics Show in January where Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini took the stage with Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha, Otellini said the partnership will be a significant factor for the chip maker as it moves in ARM€™s territory.

"We expect the combination of our companies to break new ground and bring the very best of computing capabilities to smartphones and tablets," Otellini said.

In addition, Intel, which late last year created a business unit focused on mobile computing, also is planning for the rollout of its 22-nanometer €œIvy Bridge€ chips, which will feature the company€™s power-saving Tri-Gate transistor architecture that officials say will drive design wins in tablets and Ultrabooks, a category of extremely thin and light notebooks that are designed to offer a full PC experience as well as capabilities normally found in tablets.

Intel also has partnered with Google to optimize its Android mobile operating system for Atom chips, and officials see the upcoming release of Microsoft€™s Windows 8 OS€”which is aimed not only at PCs but also tablets€”as another boon for the chip maker in its efforts to grow the number of device design wins.

Krzanich said that reducing the time it takes for fabs to produce chips will only increase Intel€™s advantage in manufacturing.

However, ARM officials are not impressed with Intel€™s mobile computing efforts. Also at CES, ARM CEO Warren East said Intel has a long way to go to match the low-power capabilities of ARM-designed chips.

"It's inevitable Intel will get a few smartphone design wins,€ East said in an interview with Reuters. "We regard Intel as a serious competitor. Are they ever going to be the leaders in power efficiency? No, of course not. But they have a lot more to offer."

The flip side of Microsoft€™s Windows 8 OS is that is also will run on devices powered by ARM-designed chips. At the Mobile World Congress show last month, Qualcomm announced that its Snapdragon processor will be part of the software giant€™s Windows on ARM developer seeding program for PCs and tablets.