Intel sees chips in your wireless future

For more than three decades, Intel has been the driving force behind the common PC processor chip, having introduced the world's first microprocessor in 1971. Now the processor giant has launched "Wireless Internet on a Chip", a singular silicon wafer technology that could herald a new era of wireless Internet-access products.

Tan Gark KhimFor more than three decades, Intel has been the driving force behind the common PC processor chip, having introduced the world's first microprocessor in 1971. Now the processor giant has launched "Wireless Internet on a Chip", a singular silicon wafer technology that could herald a new era of wireless Internet-access products. Regional manager Tan Gark Khim desribes some of the ways that the wireless network will change the world.

In terms of telecom technology, what changes can the world expect?
With the arrival of 2.5G technologies such as GPRS and later 3G technologies, more voice and data will be transmitted through the wireless world than the predominant voice transmission in the 2G world. Just as the wired world has, the wireless industry will be moving into Intel's area of technology. With more complex and bulk data needed to be handled by the wireless clients (such as mobile phones and PDAs), a high performance microprocessor is needed for these clients to provide the computing power needed for handling data. As this happens, the industry will be moving into an area where Intel's expertise lies.

For Bluetooth, Intel has been a founding member of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group. We are working with a number of industry co-travellers to provide solutions to businesses around wireless (cellular) WAN, wireless LAN, and personal area networks (e.g. bluetooth).

Tell us more about location-based services.
Position location services will come in a number of forms. A combination of network based and GPS solutions will likely occur as services utilizing the greater accuracy come into being. We also expects that retailers will be looking into all kinds of different ways to utilize the wireless network for selling products to customers once the technology is ready. Mobile commerce is an important application to enhance users' experience and we see it playing a major role in the future of next generation wireless internet access.

Intel's four architectures - the IA-32 architecture, Internet Exchange Architecture (IXA), Intel ® Personal Internet Client Architecture (PCA) and the server architectures which already include the high performance IA-32 family and the new IA-64 architecture or the Itanium(tm) family, are the basic building blocks that form the infrastructure of the Internet, which both the wired and the wireless world run on. Increased usage of the internet enhanced by applications such as mobile commerce and location services will mean more demand for all of these internet basic building blocks.

Any insights into Intel's plans in the wireless arena?
Intel sees big potential in the future in wireless internet access market segment. Research houses including IMS and In-Stat estimate that by 2003, there will be over 1 billion cellular subscribers and wireless access devices are supposed to by-pass wired internet access by 2002 (IDC). Thus the coming of 2.5G and 3G offers potential big business for wireless industry players. As the wireless world moves from voice only to voice and data, just as the wired world has, the wireless industry will be moving into Intel's area of technology. As this happens, we expect Intel to be a leading building block supplier to the wireless internet.

What about the wireless services or products that Intel is introducing?
We have introduced the Intel Personal Internet Client Architecture (Intel® PCA), which is a development blueprint designed to accelerate the development of next-generation Internet applications for wireless devices. Intel PCA is an open architecture that defines specifications for building new wireless client solutions capable of processing advanced Internet applications such as those envisioned for next-generation, Internet-ready cell phones and handheld devices. In the coming months, we will be announcing more details of the architecture to developers.

We have just announced last week the launch of a pioneer technology - "Wireless Internet on a Chip". The technology integrates Intel's high performance logic and high-density flash technologies, with addition capability for precision analog functionality, all onto a single silicon wafer. The technology could enable a new era of wireless Internet-access products that feature extensive battery life and greater processing power. Early versions of the wireless Internet on a chip will be announced in the first half of 2002.

Later this year, we are also expecting the launch of processors based on Intel XScale microarchitecture, the computing building block for wireless handhelds. The microarchitecture is the second generation of the Intel StrongARM technology.

Intel is also actively working with key handheld OEMs on designing next generation handheld devices. For example, companies such as Acer, Legend have endorsed our wireless architecture, the Intel® Personal Internet Client Architecture.

Apart from OEMs, Intel is working with several carriers and software vendors to help get new applications for wireless data established. Several have endorsed our PCA (including IBM, Sonera, British Telecom, Taiwan Cellular Corporation) initiative as this architecture provides a platform for developing lots of new data applications. We are also working with them on ways to make their wide area data capability an extension of the enterprise network. Stay tuned for upcoming announcements in this area.

In terms of infrastructure, operating costs and mobile take-up, how does the Asia Pacific region compare with the rest of the world?
Some of the emerging markets in APAC (e.g. PRC, some SE Asia countries) do not have a widely deployed wireline infrastructure and this means that they will be important markets for wireless packet data (e.g. 2.5G) deployment. In some of these countries wireless connection could become the primary internet access media. Thus, we do think APAC represents important geographic markets.

For example, we have witnessed the number of mobile phone users in PRC surpassing Japan recently, becoming the second largest mobile phone market in the world. We expect it to overtake US in less than a couple of years' time.

According to Gartner Group, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia and Singapore will most likely become the pioneer or early adopters with their high mobile phone penetration rates; and unlike their European counterparts who paid extremely high prices for 3G licenses, the relatively lower entry costs allow the operators to use fund more effectively to build up their infrastructure and provide better services.

More about Top 20 Telecoms' Outlook.