The companies will define a new mobile platform and collaborate on several open source mobile Linux software projects.
This relationship is a big win for Intel, which is trying to establish itself in a mobile device market dominated by processors designed by rival Arm. Arm chips go into most of the world’s cell phones. The iPhone, for example, uses a chip based on Arm’s Cortex A8 architecture. Handsets from Nokia already use Arm chips.
Intel is the top supplier of microprocessors for laptops and desktops, with around an 80 percent market share in chips. Two years ago the company entered the mobile space by introducing smaller and more power-efficient chips called Atom for mobile devices. Atom chips were popular in netbooks, which are small PCs designed for Internet access, but the chips were considered too power-hungry for smaller mobile devices like MIDs.
Since then, the company has made a significant investment in smaller chips that consume less power.
The company said that its upcoming Moorestown platform for mobile devices will consume up to 10 times less power when devices are in idle mode. The chips will start shipping in 2010, Intel has said. After years of growth, the global market for mobile handsets will contract by about eight per cent this year although smartphones will remain a growth area, according to a new forecast from IDC.
With the Nokia deal, Intel now has two of the world’s top three mobile phone makers with plans to use its chips in mobile devices. LG said earlier this year that it would use Intel’s mobile chips in an upcoming MID. These two design wins should put Intel in a better position to compete with companies like Texas Instruments and Qualcomm, which make chips for mobile devices based on the Arm architecture.
Nokia was the world’s largest mobile-phone maker in 2008, according to IDC. Nokia shipped around 468.4 million phones, followed by Samsung, which shipped 196.7 million phones. LG was third, shipping around 100.7 million mobile phones.
Last year Intel introduced specific Atom processors — code-named Menlow — for MIDs, but handset makers expressed concerns about poor battery performance delivered by devices with those chips. After failing to find enough adopters, Intel started using those chips in netbooks.
Intel hopes to recover from that setback with the upcoming Moorestown platform. Moorestown consists of a system-on-chip built around the Atom processor core, the Langwell chipset, as well as modules for Wi-Fi and mobile broadband network access.