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Intel puts single exec in charge of unified mobile efforts

Dec 14, 2011 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Intel is ramping up its efforts to move into the tablet and smartphone spaces via a reorganization that is bringing together four divisions to create a mobile and communications unit. It will be headed by Mike Bell, an Intel executive who worked on iPhone development while at Apple, according to reports.

Intel is combining four divisions to create a new Mobile and Communications group that will help it better compete in the fast-growing tablet and smartphone spaces. The move was revealed Dec. 14 via an internal memo, according to a Fortune report.

"The ultimate goal is we want to speed up and improve the development process," Intel spokesman Robert Manetta was quoted as saying by Reuters.

The new group will include the four divisions that had overseen mobile communications, tablets and netbooks, mobile wireless, and ultra mobility. It will be headed by Mike Bell (pictured), a former Palm and Apple executive who came over from Palm in 2010 to head up Intel's smartphone efforts. While at Apple, he was involved in the development of the iPhone, among other products.

Bell became head of Intel's ultra mobility group last March, following the departure of Anand Chandrasekher. As we reported at the time, Chandrasekher was considered "father of the Atom" and had consistently stuck his neck out to promote chip in the smartphone space, but to little avail.

Also leading the group will be Hermann Eul, who came to Intel in the chip maker's $1.4 billion acquisition of Infineon Technologies' wireless chip business in a deal that closed in January.

Intel is the world's largest chipmaker, holding more than 80 percent of the global market. The company has done well in its traditional PC and server markets, having several consecutive quarters of record profits and revenues. Still, the company has not yet been able to gain traction in the mobile device space, which is expected to grow rapidly over the next few years.

Gartner earlier this year predicated that tablet sales would grow to 294 million in 2015. At the same time, market research firm In-Stat is predicting 850 million smartphone sales in 2015.

Intel is taking a variety of avenues into the space. The company is readying its Medfield Atom chips, which will begin appearing in smartphones and tablets next year. At the same time, Intel is pushing its Ultrabook concept of very thin and light notebooks that offer tablet-like features, such as instant-on and always-connected capabilities and long battery life.

Executives expect a flood of next-generation Ultrabook designs based on the upcoming 22-nanometer Ivy Bridge chips. These will feature the company's 3D Tri-Gate transistor architecture, promising greater performance and energy efficiency than the current Sandy Bridge CPUs. (They've been delayed until April, however, according to recent reports.)

And energy efficiency is the key to chips going into these mobile devices, which run on batteries. ARM and its manufacturing partners — including Nvidia, Qualcomm, Samsung Electronics and Texas Instruments — have been building highly energy-efficient chips for years. Intel is coming from the x86 PC and server spaces, where the chips consume much more energy.

Intel in September also unveiled a partnership with Google via which the two companies will work to optimize the popular Android mobile operating system for Intel's Atom platform. Intel executives hope the move will help speed its move into the mobile computing space and give the Atom chips a needed boost. During the Intel Developer Forum in September, Intel and Google executives showed off a prototype smartphone powered by a Medfield chip and running the Android Honeycomb OS.

Jeffrey Burt is a writer for eWEEK.

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