Chipmakers Battle for Their Share of the Spotlight in Barcelona
While most of the attention at Mobile World Congress is understandably on the new devices that debut, the Barcelona event is about the entire range of companies in the mobile landscape.
In particular, some of the world’s biggest chipmakers are in a fierce battle to land their processors inside all of these new phones and tablets.
Qualcomm, whose lead in LTE has given it prime position in many of the best known smartphones, aimed to reaffirm its leadership, announcing a couple of new 64-bit capable chips in its upper-mid-range Snapdragon 600 line. The Snapdragon 615 has eight processing cores, while the 610 features four main cores.
Along with Ericsson, Qualcomm is also demonstrating the next generation of LTE, known as Category 6, which offers speeds of up to 300 megabits per second.
Intel, meanwhile, is trying to show that it is making inroads. The company is announcing its own 64-bit plans with a dual-core Merrifield chip slated to ship on devices starting in the second quarter and a quad-core successor chip, code-named Moorfield, set to arrive in the second half of the year.
More important for Intel is getting some phone and tablet customers for its chips. The company has set an ambitious goal of powering 40 million tablets this year and also hopes to further crack the phone market, where it has struggled.
Lenovo will deliver a range of Intel-powered devices this year, as will Asus, the Taiwanese company that has made a name for itself with unique tablet-phone hybrid devices. Meanwhile, Intel said it is working with contract maker Foxconn to incorporate Intel chips in some of its products, starting this year with tablets.
MediaTek, a Taiwanese chipmaker with aspirations to move further up into the performance and high-end markets, announced its second LTE chip this month, this one a quad-core chip due to show up on devices by the end of the year.
Earlier this month it announced an eight-core LTE chip, though it is not expected on devices until late this year or early next year.
The key test for all of these companies, though, will be seeing which of the big devices announced in Barcelona use their silicon. Huawei and Samsung also have their own processor units that power some of their devices, while Broadcom and a host of other companies are also aiming for a piece of the still-growing but increasingly competitive mobile market.
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