Intel buys SoC maker to boost mobile thrust

Chipmaker acquires Dutch-based systems-on-chip startup, Silicon Hive, to make Atom line of chips more attractive to wider base of devices particularly mobile devices, report notes.

Intel has made further moves to enhance its Atom line of chips to better compete with ARM-based ones, following its acquisition of systems-on-chip (SoC) startup Silicon Hive, according to a report.

Tech news blog site GigaOm reported that Intel on Thursday acquired the Dutch-based company in an attempt to make its low-power Atom processors more appealing to device makers, especially mobile devices, although it has its sights set on other arenas such as the TV, automobile and low-power server markets.

An earlier ZDNet Asia report highlighted Intel's woes in the mobile arena, stating that this has long been a sore point for the company. Today's smartphones, for instance, use ARM-based chips made by companies such as Qualcomm, Texas Instruments and long-time rival Nvidia, yet, Intel has yet to announce a device powered by its processors. When quizzed on when such a smartphone will be introduced, Intel CEO Paul Otellini said: "This year. We can't preannounce our customers. I think it's going to be pretty exciting."

This makes the Silicon Hive acquisition relevant as the startup utilizes a software-based approach to SoC design which makes its chips both less expensive and more adaptable to a range of applications, GigaOm noted. Furthermore, the company said on its Web site that its performance is better than other SoCs on market which are designed for consumer applications.

New Venture Partners, lead investor in the startup, added in the Thursday press release announcing the acquisition: "Silicon Hive's capabilities will aid in the delivery of Intel's more differentiated Atom processor-based SoCs as multimedia and imaging grow in importance across the mobile smart device segments."

So while Silicon Hive's impact will not be felt in the immediate future, it would prove an asset when usage of mobile devices for consuming video and other applications requiring advanced imaging capabilities also peak, the report noted.