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CES 2012: Chip makers Intel and Qualcomm step up competition

Warwick Ashford

Competition between mobile phone chip-maker Qualcomm and PC chip-maker Intel is set to increase with each announcing plans to move into the other’s market territory at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas.

Qualcomm plans to move into the laptop market by the end of the year with its S4 Snapdragon processor based on designs by UK chip firm ARM, while Intel announced a Lenovo mobile phone featuring its Z2460 Atom (Medfield) processors that will go on sale in China in the first half of the year.

The 32-nanometer Z2460 Atom processor is the first from Intel that is small enough and has low enough power needs to be competitive in the mobile phone market, according to the Financial Times.

Although it lacks the multicore capabilities of its Qualcomm and Nvidia rivals, Intel says the chip's hyperthreading ability still enables multitasking. Intel also claims that its work on software will enable many Android apps to run faster on Intel Atom chips than their ARM-based equivalents.

Intel and Motorola Mobility, the handset maker being acquired by Google, also announced a multi-device strategic relationship, with Motorola to produce smartphones using Atom processors with Android in the second half of the year.

Qualcomm plans to tap into the compatibility of Windows 8 with ARM, and announced that 20 manufacturers had more than 70 designs in the pipeline for devices that are not mobile phones using its S4 Snapdragon processors .

The mobile phone chip-maker used CES as an opportunity to demonstrate a tablet computer and a Lenovo television that run its chips.

Qualcomm also said it is talking to PC makers about building thin and light computers with long battery life that will challenge the new ultrabook category.

Click here to read more coverage from CES 2012.


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