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Intel endgame is mobile phones

Company appears to be focusing a lot of attention on future Moorestown silicon that will go into mobile phones.

For an out-there 2009-2010 chip, Intel's Moorestown seems to get mentioned a lot by executives. If you consider, however, that this silicon may represent Intel's single biggest push into the "very large" mobile phone market, then all that jawboning is understandable.

At recent Intel conferences, CEO Paul Otellini and other high-ranking executives have dropped the Moorestown name frequently. Why? First, it will be Intel's showcase system-on-a-chip, combining the CPU, graphics, and memory controller on a single die, which, in turn, will be combined with other silicon. Second, it will probably serve as the main launching pad for Intel into the mobile phone market. The "first entry into phone form factors," as Intel has stated. What the chipmaker calls "MID phones" or Mobile Internet Device phones (see graphic below). Third, it could be a major market for Intel's upcoming solid state drives (SSDs).

Moorestown platform
Moorestown platform Intel

MID phones will have other goodies too. Like high-speed WiMax broadband wireless (if, indeed, a widespread infrastructure is in place by then). With Moorestown, Intel is also targeting 10 times lower power consumption (at idle) than the 2008 "Menlow" Mobile Internet Device design. Which, theoretically, means much better battery life.

Moorestown targets "very large" phone market
Moorestown targets "very large" phone market Intel Corp.

The flip side to all of this is that Intel is currently not a player in mobile phone processors. And its largest competitor, AMD, is ahead here. AMD's Imageon line of chips--inherited from ATI--are currently used in over 50 mobile phones and devices from companies like Motorola, LG, Panasonic, and Samsung. And AMD offers graphics technology to Freescale Semiconductor, Qualcomm, and STMicroelectronics, among others.

Last month, AMD disclosed the Imageon A250 applications processor for video recording/playback and photo imaging, among other applications. The chipmaker also revealed the Imageon D160 mobile TV solution. AMD also offers Z460 3D graphics that tap into the same patented AMD Unified Shader Architecture that provides a graphics platform for the Microsoft Xbox 360 video game system.