Intel Advances its Embedded Line

By Michael Singer

June 04, 2004

The chipmaking giant enhances three of its latest chips to support its redoubled efforts in communications.

Intel is hoping to make more hay out of the capabilities of three of its recently released processors.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chipmaking giant said it has tweaked its Intel Pentium M processor 745 (formerly code named Dothan) to support communications infrastructure; its Ultra Low Voltage (ULV) Intel Celeron M processor for multimedia; and the Intel PXA270 processors (formerly code named Bulverde) and products for other embedded computing environments. All three feature Intel's SpeedStep technology, which Intel says helps manage voltage and frequency changes. The Dothan, running at 1.8 GHz and selling for USD$415 in 10,000-unit quantities, and the ULV Celeron, running at 600 MHz and selling for USD$127, are shipping now, the company said Friday.

Intel said it is sampling the PXA270, with volume production planned for next quarter. When it debuts in PDAs and smartphones, the PXA270 will cycle at speeds of 312MHz, 416 MHz and 520 MHz, and retail starting at USD$32 in 10,000-unit quantities.

"By choosing such standardized building blocks as the processors introduced today, developers can accelerate their time to market on a broad range of products and solutions," Tom Franz, vice president and general manager of Intel's Communications Infrastructure Group, said in a statement.

The company is hoping to maintain momentum for its communications products. Fueled by Intel's Flash memory products, CFO Andy Bryant bumped up the lower range of its estimated second quarter sales. The company now expects revenue for the second quarter to be between $8 billion and $8.2 billion.

"Intel is absolutely dependent on selling faster and bigger, and in increasing quantities, every year," Melanie Hollands, president of Koala Capital, a hedge fund that focuses on technology stocks, told "That cycle is broken; not because Moore's law doesn't work any more, but because the demand for bigger and faster is being decimated by the fact that the software we need and can use just doesn't require more."

But as laptops, PDAs, smartphones and other embedded environments continue to run the same types of applications as their desktop counterparts, Intel is hedging its bets that the mobile form factors are still in need of speed.

To that end, Intel has positioned its Dothan chips for its Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture (ATCA) board designs. Embedded market segments such as POS terminals and industrial computing are also applicable for this processor.

The Ultra Low Voltage Celeron is being marketed for developers of small form factor designs that do not require fans for cooling; that would include wireless and wireline providers, including those that use mezzanine cards, and the embedded market.

Intel said its Bulverde is for developers designing such graphics-rich applications as personal media players, navigation devices and handheld POS terminals. The company said its PXA270 is the first embedded communications product to integrate the Intel Wireless MMX and has also incorporated Intel Quick Capture technology to support full-motion video and 4-megapixel cameras.

Intel's Communications Group is looking to make up for lost ground after the division suffered a $600 million write-off last December. The reorganized group is now working on the development of WiMAX (802.11.6) wireless MAN networks and is anticipating including the technology in its notebook chipsets sometime in 2006.

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