Intel to Buy Mindspeed's Wireless Infrastructure Business

The deal adds to the chip maker's aggressive strategy to expand the reach of its chip technologies in the data center.

Intel is continuing to bolster its mobile and networking capabilities with the acquisition of the wireless infrastructure unit of Mindspeed Technologies.

The move, announced Dec. 16, will bring greater digital signal processing technology into the Intel fold, a key part of the chip maker's larger efforts to being able to put the key network processing workloads onto the Intel Architecture (IA) platform. According to Rose Schooler, vice president and general manager of Communications and Storage Group, Intel's x86-based technology already can handle three of the important processing workloads: application processing, control processing and packet processing.

"Our goal has always been to consolidate all four workloads to run on IA and we have already made significant steps towards enabling the last one—signal processing on Intel-based servers—through collaboration with China Mobile and SKT on designing Cloud Radio Access Network technologies," Schooler wrote in a post on the Intel blog site. "Through this acquisition, Intel will gain a wireless infrastructure team with deep experience in delivering signal processing-related technologies and IP for base stations. Having this team as part of Intel will accelerate consolidation of the final fourth workload on Intel technologies, delivering increased value to customers."

No financial details of the acquisition were released. The deal reportedly is expected to close in February.

Intel has been aggressive in building up its wireless technology in recent years. In 2011, the company bought the wireless division of Infineon Technologies for $1.4 billion, a move that led to Intel announcing in October a 4G LTE-enabled chip, the XMM 7160 modem. Company officials expect the XMM 7160 to help Intel better compete with the likes of Qualcomm and its Snapdragon platform in the chip space for smartphones and tablets. Devices like tablets and notebooks are moving away from being WiFi-only, opening up a growing market for 4G LTE-enabled systems.

As in other parts of the data center, Intel is looking to offer a common platform—Intel Architecture—for communications workloads. Such a common platform would enable organizations to better reuse technology—rather than having to use particular hardware based on different chip architectures—and reduce costs by using the same x86 architecture and associated software platform. It also would give Intel a larger play in wireless networks and devices in its ongoing competition against ARM.

"For the carriers, the ability to use general-purpose computing to process networking workloads allows service providers to quickly deploy more flexible and scalable infrastructure, reducing provisioning time for services, and improving user experiences," Schooler wrote. "The worlds of Information Technology and Communications Technology are converging. The scalability, flexibility and operating expenses of 'classic' data centers have become a role model for carrier network operators looking to improve their economic profile. IT technologies and approaches are increasingly being used throughout telecom infrastructure used to manage our phone calls, provide wireless access, route traffic, and enable internet surfing on mobile devices using 3G or 4G."

Earlier this month, Intel unveiled Highland Forest, a platform aimed at enterprise, service provider and telecommunication networks that combines Intel's Xeon E5-2600 v2 CPU with its new Coleto Creek chipset. Highland Forest also offers the common architecture and development platform.

The deal with Intel comes a month after Mindspeed agreed to be bought by M/A-COM Technology Solutions Holdings for $272 million. Intel then agreed to buy Mindspeed's wireless infrastructure business.

The wireless unit has sites in the United Kingdom, China and Newport Beach, Calif.