As Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) continues its journey to becoming a credible player in the mobile market, it has had to build up several technologies critical to smartphones and tablets. In addition to low-power applications processors, the company developed connectivity solutions: Things such as cellular modems, low-power Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and near-field communications are all critical to modern mobile platforms.
At the Mobile World Congress this week, Intel is launching a suite of new connectivity-related products. In particular, there is a cellular modem, a new Wi-Fi/Bluetooth combo chip, an in-house NFC solution, and GNSS. Without further ado, let's get to the details.
XMM 7360 brings category 10 speeds later this year
First up is the Intel XMM 7360 LTE-Advanced stand-alone cellular baseband.
The modem supports up to 29 LTE bands, according to Intel, which is an improvement from the prior-generation XMM 7260, which supported just 22 LTE bands. This is also a category 10 part, which means it supports up to 450 megabits per second download speed and 100 megabits per second upload.
The device has been sampling since the first quarter of 2015, according to Intel's statements at the investor meeting in late 2014; the above slide indicates the modem should make it into commercial devices in the second half of 2015. Intel has come a long way since launching its first LTE solution in mid-2013.
Suite of connectivity solutions
Intel is also launching a whole host of connectivity solutions, as shown in the slide below.
First up is the company's first low-power Wi-Fi/Bluetooth combo chip. Prior Intel platforms needed to be paired with combo chips from external vendors such as Broadcom (UNKNOWN:BRCM.DL) and Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM). However, Intel is now offering a seemingly competitive 802.11ac low-power solution.
Intel is also offering an in-house GNSS solution, as well as an in-house NFC solution. I believe the former comes from Intel's acquisition of ST-Ericsson's GNSS solutions, while the latter appears to be from Intel's acquisition of NFC assets from Inside Secure in April 2014.
What this means for Intel
To compete in the mobile chip market, a chip vendor must offer the "complete platform." Previously, Intel could not offer that, which hurt its competitiveness, particularly in the low end of the mobile market where device manufacturers are known to want to source all their platform components from a single vendor.
Additionally, even in segments in which a complete bundled solution is not required, Intel can drive more revenue per platform by selling more chips into a particular mobile design.
Intel needs to keep the momentum up
It's not enough to release one set of connectivity products and then call it a day. The competition in this market is fierce; if Intel is serious about being a major mobile player, it must keep releasing new, more fully featured connectivity solutions each year.
The good news is that Intel has done just that in the cellular modem market. Even though the company's first LTE solution was extremely late, the second generation was almost on time (I think it was delayed a few months), and the third generation appears on schedule.
Intel has its act together in cellular, and continuing to execute on the rest of the connectivity chip suite would be a solid step forward for the company's mobile group.