Intel Promises Mobile Performance at IDF

The chip maker will enhance its flash memory line and support WiMax as the new broadband standard.

SAN FRANCISCO—The bandwidth supplied by next-generation wireless networks is fueling a demand for performance on mobile phones and PDAs, Intel executives said Wednesday.

Intel Corp. announced several enhancements in flash memory during the second day of its Intel Developer Forum here, where the company is competing heavily with rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. for leadership in NOR flash, a subset of the flash market.

Intels mobility chief also announced a broader adoption of WiMax, which Intel hopes will serve as the next-generation wireless broadband standard.

"Moores Law is being called on more and more for mobility as well as just the requirements of performance," said Sean Maloney, executive vice president and general manager of the newly re-formed mobility group at Intel.

Intel reorganized its mobile platforms organization a few months ago to better focus on the interaction between notebooks, PDAs and cell phones, he said.

Intels strategy is to roll out wireless chips and chip sets covering basic cellular up through more advanced wireless services, such as the W-CDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) standard that is becoming prevalent in Europe.

While the company has fared well in the flash market, the number of customers for its next-generation "Hermon" cellular baseband processor is one, according to Will Strauss, an embedded chip analyst with Forward Concepts in Phoenix. Onstage, Maloney brought out a display of cellular phones and PDAs containing Intel silicon, and he identified just one, a next-generation phone under development from AsusTek Computer Inc., as using the Hermon chip set.

Intel also announced several enhancements to its flash line. Intel has released stacking technologies which stack flash chips vertically, saving space, as well as cramming more bits per cell.

Intels announced products included:

  • "Sibley," a 90-nm multilayer flash cell. MLC flash allows multiple bits of data to be stored in a single flash cell, increasing the storage density of the cell phone or PDA.
  • "Sixmile," a new line of flash products designed for new embedded applications.
  • "Haubinway," a new flash file system, designed for multimedia.
  • Intel also announced engineering samples of its 65-nm flash memory, the next-generation technology that will allow greater capacities and reduced power.

    In 2006, Intel will introduce "Napa," its next-generation Centrino platform. Napa includes "Yonah," the first dual-core mobile processor, complete with a "Digital Media Boost" or improved SSE instructions for multimedia; "Calistoga," the integrated graphics chip set; and "Golan," a new Wi-Fi chip set that will improve the ability to seek out wireless access points.

    /zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read more about Intels dual-core strategy.

    Maloney said the Napa platform has been shrunk over 30 percent since its initial design. The chip set will be 69 percent smaller, in terms of board space, than the original Centrino chip set.

    In 2006 and 2007, the first mobile WiMax deployments will begin rolling out, providing broadband to the mobile user. "Wi-Fi is really cool but when you walk outside of a hotspot, its a disappointing experience," Maloney said. "Signal range and reach are more important than the bandwidth of the signal. You have to get a connection—thats the lesson of the cell phone industry."

    Currently, the WiMax Forum has 244 members, roughly 10 times the size it was a year ago, Maloney said. New members include a substantial body of people who have gone through the "3G experience."

    /zimages/4/28571.gifRead Ann Suns opinion here about the future of WiMax.

    Intel has also sampled its first 802.16d "Rosedale" WiMax silicon a few months ago to customers, Maloney said. There are currently 15 carrier trials underway around the world; by 2006, the industry hopes to have 75 carrier trials either being deployed or under trial around the world, he said.

    "The objective to take this one step further around the principle that coverage is king," Maloney said.

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