Intel plans 3G chip and announces partners

Intel is to release an integrated mobile phone processor for third-generation networks, president and chief operating officer...

Intel is to release an integrated mobile phone processor for third-generation networks, president and chief operating officer Paul Otellini announced at the 3GSM World Congress in Cannes yesterday.

The Hermon family of processors builds on Intel's integrated processors for GSM/GPRS and Edge networks. They will support faster Universal Mobile Telecommunications System/Wideband Code Division Multiple Access 3G networks and will also allow phone users to participate in videoconferences.

Intel is a newcomer to the mobile phone processor market. Its PXA800F processor, formerly known as Manitoba, was released about a year ago as its first attempt at cracking this market. The PXA800F features an XScale applications processor, a GSM/GPRS modem, and flash memory integrated onto a single chip.

Many phone designers use two chips from companies such Texas Instruments to separately control the operating system and the communications because the chipsets are easier and cheaper to build into phones than the single chip. Intel believes that a single-chip approach allows phone designers to build smaller devices and that costs will decrease as silicon technology continues to shrink.

Intel also announced that manufacturer Asustek Computer will build phones based on the PXA800F and smart phones based on the Hermon processors. Wireless carrier Orange will also work with Intel on next-generation phones.

Few companies have signed on to build phones with Intel's PXA800F chip. The XScale applications processor can be found in several phones, but the PXA800F has proved a tougher sell. Maxon Telecom agreed last year to release a phone based on the chip, but that phone has yet to hit the market.

In December, Intel wrote off $600m in goodwill related to its mobile phone processor division, saying the business would not grow as quickly as it had once believed.

Tom Krazit writes for IDG News Service

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