EETimes.com – Analyst: Intel buys cell-phone chip maker
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Intel Corp. continues to make a push back into the cell-phone chip business–”sometimes under the radar”–as it acquired Comsys Mobile Communication and Signal Processing Ltd. for $30 million in late May, according to Forward Concepts Co.”Intel has not published a news release on the acquisition,” said Will Strauss, president of Forward Concepts, in an e-mail newsletter. ”Comsys’ 80 employees will join Intel’s major wireless R&D centers in Haifa and Petah Tikva.”
Comsys’ ”first product was a modem for PCs developed for Conexant Systems, but later developed IPR for 2G and 2.5G cellphone modems,” Strauss said. ”Its biggest licensee was Texas Instruments, which later purchased the Comsys cellphone operation. Comsys then changed direction and entered the WiMAX business.”
Strauss visited with Comsys at Mobile World Congress in February. ”The company was offering a combo WiMAX/GSM modem chip (not IPR). Although 3G capability was mentioned in the Israeli news reports of the acquisition, we are unaware of such IPR by Comsys,” he added.
Several years ago, Intel exited the cell-phone chip business. Then, as reported, Intel recently rolled out its latest Atom chip set, the 45-nm Moorestown platform geared for use in the burgeoning market for smartphones and tablets.
The new chip supports three mobile Linux variants, including Google’s Android, but observers said the PC giant’s next-generation 32-nm chip set will compete more effectively for handset design wins. Moorestown includes three chips led by the Atom Z6xx series system-on-chip processors formerly known as Lincroft. Like the Pinetrail version of Atom announced in January, the new SoC includes memory and display controllers as well as hardware for 3-D graphics and video processing.
”When Intel announced its newest application processor aimed at the cellphone market, the Atom Z6xx based on the latest ‘Moorestown’ silicon, the company proudly crowed that idle power consumption was 1/50th of its prior Atom product (I guess they found the “off” switch),” Strauss said in the newsletter.
”Intel’s news release also mentioned that power consumption for audio processing was 1/20th of the previous version. Intel did mention that much of its power reduction was due to a Freescale power management IC (PMIC),” he said.
”But, what was not mentioned in its news release was that most of the audio processing is not performed by the Atom chip itself, but by an audio DSP in Intel’s accompanying Platform Controller Hub MP20DSP and in the Freescale power management chip. The Freescale chip (the SC900841/2) not only provides battery and power management functions for the Z6xx, but it also provides 16-bit audio codec functionality (another DSP core) including 24-bit audio DAC, Class A line out, Class AB earpiece amplifier, Class AB headset amplifier and 500 mW Class D Audio amplifier,” he added.