Intel digs deeper into mobile plans

The chipmaker has signed partnerships with mobile device makers ZTE and Lava, as well as payment giant Visa, and has offered a glimpse of its plans for new high- and low-end mobile processors
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Intel has widened its range of mobile partners to include ZTE, Visa and Lava, ahead of its big smartphone push later this year.

Intel at MWC

Intel has revealed more of its mobile strategy at Mobile World Congress, as it signed partnerships with mobile device makers ZTE and Lava. Pictured: Intel boss Paul Otellini (left) and Orange's Yves Maitre. Image credit: Roger Cheng/CNET News

The chipmaker has also given details of new high-end and low-end mobile processors that will follow the Medfield platform, on which newly announced handsets will be based.

Intel, which dominates the desktop market but so far barely has a foot in the door of mobiles, had already announced upcoming Atom-based handsets from Lenovo and Motorola. However, at Mobile World Congress (MWC) this week Intel made further announcements regarding both manufacturers and mobile-payment systems.

"We are very pleased to add new, important customers and capabilities to our phone offerings today," Intel chief Paul Otellini said on Monday. "We remain focused on delivering exciting new features and outstanding performance to smartphone customers around the world."

ZTE and Lava

Apart from Orange and its upcoming Santa Clara handset, Intel also revealed that it had China's ZTE and India's Lava on board to create low-cost smartphones using Intel chips rather than the ubiquitous ARM-based processor family.

The first Intel-based Lava smartphone will be the XOLO X900, available in India during the second quarter of this year. Intel also said it now has a far-reaching partnership with ZTE, which will take in both handsets and tablets — the first smartphone to result from this partnership will appear in the second half of 2012.

At MWC, Intel also gave a few further details of how its mobile platform will develop. The Medfield Z2460 Atom processor platform will now support speeds of up to 2GHz, the company said. It added that a new processor called the Z2580 will double that performance while also incorporating LTE technology.

The Z2580 platform will be sampled in the second half of this year, with products scheduled for the first half of 2013.

Meanwhile, Intel plans to release a low-end smartphone platform called the Z2000, which will use a 1GHz Atom CPU and should be able to handle browsing and Android games. The Z200, which will also be able to support two SIMs, will sample in mid-2012 and appear in products in early 2013.

All these are chips built on 32nm technology. Otellini also said that Intel would ship 22nm system-on-a-chip (SoC) packages next year, and is already working on 14nm SoC technology.

Visa tie-in

Separately at MWC, Intel announced a tie-in with Visa that will see the financial services giant certify its Z2460 platform for use with Visa's payWave digital wallet system.

PayWave needs near-field communication (NFC) technology in order to work, and NFC is built in the Z2460 platform. Used with a payWave app, phones based on Intel's platform should work as viable payment devices, in the same way that recent bank cards do.

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