SAN JOSE, Calif. The general manager of Intel's communications group said the company is poised to roll out its first internally-designed RF products, see growth in its network processors, and launch a 90-nm process with combined CMOS, analog, and silicon germanium technology.
"There is no sign of recovery in the telecom industry. Some people have asked why not just shut our communications business down. But we are in it for growth," said Sean Maloney, general manager of Intel's communications group, at the Intel Developer Forum here.
Recovering from a set-back in its plans for an 802.11a/b combo chip set, the group is preparing to launch its first 802.11 RF components "pretty soon," Maloney said, in an effort to cash in on one of the few bright spots in communications today.
The company recently announced it would not be able to deliver its internally-designed 802.11a/b combo chip set in time for the March 12 launch of its next-generation notebook processor, the Pentium M. Instead the 802.11 chip sets will ship in the second quarter, the company said.
"We didn't start early enough on the 802.11a/b combo design. Wireless is a complex business, and we are approaching it with a degree of humility," Maloney said.
The group now sports a geographically distributed wireless LAN RF design team of nearly 500 people as well as a separate RF team in its cellular group, he said.
"We formed a wireless LAN RF group a couple years ago and began hiring a significant number of cellular and military and other wireless specialists. We have a lab outside Moscow with some of the brightest RF algorithm developers on the planet, as well as a separate group in San Diego," he said.
Separately, Maloney said the group is seeing signs of an uptick in its network processor business. "In the last six to nine months, the major equipment makers have decided who will be their number one and number two suppliers. They are just starting to design their systems now, so this will be a 2004 phenomena," Maloney said.
Meanwhile, Intel reported progress in rolling out a 90-nm process that combines CMOS, analog, and silicon germanium. "We will have first silicon on this process by the end of the year and production next year, and we have moved to the product design phase with this process technology now," said Eric Mentzer, chief technology officer of Intel's communications group.
Mentzer would not specify what products Intel will first apply to the process which is being run in the company's D1 300-mm fab in Oregon.
The communications group has closed 12 to 15 business units or geographic sites. "We've gotten out of everything that had to do with systems that might compete with our customers, so we are a pure-play semiconductor supplier," said Maloney.