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Intel previews multimode LTE chips, with eyes on U.S. handset market

Mark Hachman | Aug. 20, 2013
Intel will ship multimode LTE capabilities by the end of the month, Intel executives said Monday. It's a technology the company is throwing its weight behind--and needs, if it's to compete in the U.S. market.

Intel's announcement, as well as its upcoming integration plans, represent a key strategic element for Intel's continued push into the wireless business. Intel has expended a great deal of effort to push its mobile processors--the "Clover Trail+" Atom chip, and the upcoming "Bay Trail"--into mobile handsets. But its only design win of note is the Lenovo K900 handset, restricted to the Chinese market.

Intel slide
Intel's new XMM 7160 LTE chip.

Why aren't Intel's mobile chips in handsets selling within the U.S.? "Absence of LTE is the reason," Tom Kilroy, Intel's vice president of sales, said, according to Engadget. "We can't get ranged by U.S. carriers without LTE, so once we have multimode LTE coming to market later this year, we have an opportunity to compete in that business."

According to Will Strauss, a digital signal processor analyst with Forward Concepts, Intel's XMM 7160 chip has been qualified with AT&T and Verizon. Evans declined to comment, but acknowledged that the lack of LTE has held the company back.

Finally, there's the computing element. Intel executives said that download speeds would be up to 100 Mbit/s, a theoretical limit that's dependent on the carrier and available spectrum. But without that additional data, it's difficult to justify a premium Intel CPU versus a cheaper model.

Now, Intel simply has to convince handset makers that it's a player. In 2014 and 2015, Intel is striving for "credibility," Evans said, while its technical roadmap includes such capabilities as voice over LTE and LTE Advanced technology. A 7260 chip may include those capabilities.


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