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First Intel-branded 3G, 4G chips debut

Chip giant debuts its first 3G and 4G chips at the Mobile World Conference, giving new meaning to its tagline "Intel Inside."

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers

Intel announced shipments of the first 3G chips--and future 4G silicon--that sport its branding today at Mobile World Congress--the fruits of its acquisition of Infineon's wireless business.

Apple's iPad uses what is now an Intel 3G chip--formerly Infineon.
Apple's iPad uses what is now an Intel 3G chip--formerly Infineon. Apple

"Intel Inside" takes on a new meaning with 3G chips. After the acquisition, Intel Mobile Communications has overnight become a major supplier of so-called baseband processors, which handle the 3G connection and are one of the most critical chips in a smartphone or tablet.

Intel's--formerly Infineon's--3G chips are used in prominent devices such as the iPhone and iPad.

Announced today, the XMM 6260 is designed for smartphones and can be coupled with a smartphone's application processor or offered as a standalone solution for PC modems and data cards, Intel said.

The HSPA+ technology "comprises a fully integrated HSPA+ system solution supporting HSPA category 14 (21 megabits per second) in the downlink and category 7 (11.5Mbps) in the uplink," according to Intel.

Intel's MWC wireless rollouts don't stop there. The world's largest chipmaker also announced LTE technology, generically referred to as 4G.

The multimode (LTE/3G/2G) platform XMM 7060 "is suitable for integration in LTE-enabled portable devices such as mobile handsets, data cards/dongles and other embedded solutions," Intel said.

The 3G silicon is shipping in volume now, while the LTE solution will be available for volume shipment in the second half of 2012. Though the world's largest manufacturer of chips, Intel will not be making these products, instead consigning production to an Asia-based manufacturer.