Could spell bad news for British chip designer ARM
UK chip designer ARM’s domination of the smartphone market could be facing a major upset in the next few days when Google’s Motorola subsidiary unveils a new Android device expected to be powered by an Intel processor. Invites are currently being sent out for the US launch of the device in two days’ time [5th September 2012] and in London in just over a fortnight. Though Motorola is keeping its cards close to its chest, it’s widely rumoured that both events will mark the unveiling of its Edge device – the first real fruits of its labour since it was acquired by Google. Significantly, the London invite also bears the Intel logo though it’s not clear whether it relates to the debut of a smartphone or tablet.But, if as anticipated, a new Intel-based Android smartphone is about to be unveiled then it will serve as a milestone in the mobile industry given the dominance of ARM to date.
The partnership between Intel and Motorola, first announced at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year, is one of the few that Intel has been able to acquire in the mobile sphere, reflecting the difficulties it has hitherto experienced in getting an x86-based processor to fit neatly inside a system-on-chip suitable for phones.
But more recently Intel has been developing its brand-new “Medfield” mobile processors to overcome problems with size and power consumption.
If the new Edge device is Medfield powered it could pave the way for new Intel alliances with Microsoft and its Windows 7 OS, not to mention struggling phone makers like Nokia who desperately need to find their own way in a world equally dominated by Google’s Android platform – all the more so now that Android could be in the patent gunsights of Apple.
While the current Atom Z2460 “Medfield” is running a single core, Intel has a higher end dual core Z2580 (with LTE or 4G capability) that will be available in the first half of 2013, potentially posing an even bigger threat to ARM, particularly its Cortex A9 designs.
Meanwhile reports elsewhere suggest The Edge is likely to be the first Motorola device to ship with Android Jelly Bean, at the same time featuring a touch-screen that fills almost the whole front of the device.
In London today [3rd September 2012], ARM’s shares were trading at around the 558p mark compared to 647p at their height earlier this year.
It follows a recommendation by Deutsche Bank for investors to sell ARM shares “due to increased competition.”