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Wednesday, 24 June 2009 04:31

Intel and Nokia team to go 'beyond the smartphone

Intel, the world's largest chip maker and Nokia, the leading mobile handset maker, have formed a long term relationship to develop future mobile computing devices and underlying chipset architectures that they say will lead to mobile devices far in advance of those presently available.

Other than a commitment by Intel to licence Nokia's HSPA/3G technology no specifics have been announced, no indication of their respective financial or human resource commitments have been given and there has been no indication of when any products might emerge from the relationship.

The two said that their future standards-based devices "will marry the best features and capabilities of the computing and communications worlds and will transform the user experience, bringing incredible mobile applications and always on, always connected wireless Internet access in a user-friendly pocketable form factor."

The two companies are touting the alliance as a source of great innovation and their announcement suggests that they intend to work on a whole range of technologies that will underpin future devices. Kai Öistämö, Nokia's executive vice president, devices, said: "We will explore new ideas in designs, materials and displays that will go far beyond devices and services on the market today. This collaboration will be compelling not only for our companies, but also for our industries, our partners and, of course, for consumers."

Anand Chandrasekher, Intel senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Ultra Mobility Group, added: "This Intel and Nokia collaboration unites and focuses many of the brightest computing and communications minds in the world. With the convergence of the Internet and mobility as the team's only barrier, I can only imagine the innovation that will come out of our unique relationship with Nokia. The possibilities are endless."

This is the second significant 'marriage' between the chip making and mobile industries in the past year. Last August, Ericsson and STMicroelectronics announced plans to merge their respective cellphone chip and cellphone software (platform) businesses into a 50/50 joint venture that they said would have the industry's strongest product offering in semiconductors and platforms for mobile applications.

That marriage was flagged as likely to have a major impact on chip makers supplying the mobile handset market, and today's announcement of Intel's collaboration with Nokia is likely to have even greater impact.

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Qualcomm, Freescale and Texas Instruments are market leaders in the supply of chipsets to mobile handset makers with TI a major supplier to Nokia, and the new Intel-Nokia relationship will only increase the pressure. Also likely to suffer is ARM which supplies core cellphone processors to both TI and Qualcomm, according to a Reuters report.

The Nokia-Intel collaboration includes technology development and cooperation in several open source software initiatives in order to develop common technologies for use in the Moblin and Maemo platform projects, which will deliver Linux-based operating systems for their future mobile computing devices.

The two companies will co-ordinate their open source technology selection and development investments, including alignment on a range of key open source technologies for mobile computing: oFono, ConnMan, Mozilla, X.Org, BlueZ, D-BUS, Tracker, GStreamer and PulseAudio. They say: "Collectively, these technologies will provide an open source standards-based means to deliver a wealth of mobile Internet and communication experiences, with rich graphics and multimedia capabilities."

Moblin is an open source Linux operating system project hosted by the Linux Foundation that delivers visually rich Internet media experiences on Intel Atom processor-based devices including MIDs, netbooks, nettops, in-vehicle infotainment (IVI), and embedded systems.

Maemo is a Linux operating system, mostly based on open source code that powers mobile computers such as the Nokia N810 Internet Tablet. It was developed by Nokia in collaboration with many open source projects

Nokia and Intel say that: "Enabling common technologies across the Moblin and Maemo software environments will help foster the development of compatible applications for these devices – building on the huge number of off-the-shelf PC compatible applications. The open source projects will be governed using the best practices of the open source development model.

Intel will also acquire a Nokia HSPA/3G modem IP license for use in future products and intends to integrate Nokia's intellectual property into its own chip designs to with the aim of "developing advanced mobile computing solutions that deliver a powerful and flexible computing experience."

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