Intel Chips In Smartphones. What Are The Odds?

Updated on

Intel has reportedly been working to get its latest Skylake architecture into large smartphones or phablets. Whether or not Intel will succeed in its attempts, is discussed in a Motley Fool report by Ashraf Eassa.

Intel Skylake close, but more work needed

Eassa believes not many vendors will be using the Skylake architecture but believes the concept of Intel putting its Core micro-architecture into a smartphone is interesting. According to Eassa, Intel’s Skylake comes close to a typical high-end smartphone system-on-a-chip but still has a few notches to cover to be there. Usually a high-end smartphone system-on-a-chip is a single chip solution with numerous IP blocks, such as CPU cores, sensor hub, image signal processor, digital signal processors, graphics/media and a cellular baseband processor.

Intel’s Skylake has many of these IP blocks, but some of the key IP blocks are still integrated into a separate chipset in the same package. For being a “true” smartphone chip, the chip maker will have to get all those blocks “onto the main processor die,” says Eassa.

When could such chip be expected?

Intel’s Skylake-based smartphone chips are not as competitive as chips that have been made solely for smartphones. Even with the Kaby Lake chips, which are an improved family of chips with an origin related to Skylake, Core-based smartphones may not be possible, suggests Eassa. But with Intel moving to 10-nanometer architectures, there is some possibility.

If Cannonlake, Intel’s first 10-nanometer processor architecture, is made to support older chips, then the transition to “true single-die system-on-chip might not be feasible until the follow-on architecture. If not, then Intel might have the freedom to make such a significant change,” says Eassa.

If the chip maker releases Core M processors with a “single piece of silicon” and key IP blocks, Eassa believe it will not only make it a more efficient low-power PC and tablet processor but will also be a decent candidate for smartphones. But Intel will have to ensure that the relevant IP blocks for phones and phablets are “top-notch as well.”

So far, Intel’s Atom line of smartphone/tablet processors has performed below expectations. But if the chip maker “deems such capabilities and integration levels” vital for defending its dominating position in the core PC segment, then there is a good chance that Core-based products with right architecture find their way into smartphones as well, says Eassa.

Leave a Comment