Intel may be destined for iPhone, iPad

Multiple reports indicate that an Intel buyout of chipmaker Infineon's wireless unit may be imminent.

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

Will Intel chips land in the iPhone and iPad? They may if reports are correct that Intel is on the verge of buying Germany-based Infineon's wireless chip unit.

A variety of reports from both Europe and U.S.-based newspapers have been hinting at an imminent Intel-Infineon deal. So, where would that situate Intel-Infineon inside the current versions of the iPhone and iPad?

Reputable teardown sites make it clear that Infineon silicon plays a pretty important role in the iPad and iPhone 4. UMB TechInsights shows two chips: An Infineon A GSM/W-CDMA transceiver and a baseband processor.

The baseband processor--which handles the 3G connection--is one of the most critical chips. "This processor has HSDPA/HSUPA capabilities of 7.2Mbps/2.9Mbps and the ability to connect to cameras with up to 5 MPixels like the one found on the iPhone 4G (the X-GOLD 618 version)," according to TechInsights. (HSDPA stands for High-Speed Downlink Packet Access. HSUPA is the acronym for High-Speed Uplink Packet Access.)

Ironically, those are communication chips, the very business that Intel sold in 2006 to its Silicon Valley neighbor Marvell. And that technology transfer to Marvell included Intel's StrongARM applications processor. ARM processors like Apple's A4 and Texas Instruments' OMAP (inside the Motorola Droid and Droid X) are powering some of the most popular gadgets today.

History aside, the deal would put a post-Infineon-acquisition Intel inside a host of devices beyond the current iPhone and iPad. Infineon communication chips are also used in mobile phones from Nokia and Samsung.