2014: Intel's Year of Living Wirelessly?

2014 could be a big and important year in wireless for Intel.

Across the board, Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) is attempting to make strides into many things mobile, from devices to networking gear to basestation technology. Basically, the chipmaker needs to get bigger in the growing mobile market as the desktop computer market dwindles.

The latest manifestation of this is the plan to buy the wireless assets of Mindspeed Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: MSPD). One of Intel's flagship projects during the coming year and beyond will be to enable basestation-style signal processing on its platforms. In theory, this should enable it to support so-called "Cloud RAN" deployments where a centralized server -- or server farm -- controls multiple "dumb" radio nodes as an alternative, or, more likely, a complement to the public small cell model. (See Intel Confirms Mindspeed Wireless Buyout.)

Intel is plainly keen on this concept. Like public-access small cells, however, it could take years to get fully developed.

So, Intel is working on plenty of other wireless technology, too.

As my colleague Dan O'Shea pointed out in a recent story, Intel is working to get its chips into more telecom core and access networking equipment next year. The company says it's a $16 billion market opportunity of which it owns only 5% currently. (See Intel Targets Networking Gear.)

Meanwhile, on the device side, Intel says it will deliver a new Atom processor and integrated communications system, codenamed SoFIA, for entry-level smartphones and tablets by the end of 2014. It claims it already ships 360 million 2G and 3G mobile platforms a year, thanks to its Infineon assets buyout. (See Intel to Acquire Infineon's Wireless Biz.)

The chipmaker is also looking to build some design wins in tablets in 2013 with its Baytrail chipset. It aims to increase its shipments fourfold in tablet silicon in 2014.

So will 2014 be a make or break year for Intel in wireless? It's still a bit early to say. But we've seen how quickly fortunes can change, even for massive tech behemoths, if they miss key shifts in the market -- just look at how Nokia and BlackBerry fared in 2013.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

Sign In