While companies like Broadcom are looking to exit the broadband market, Intel continues to invest in its LTE business and its low-cost SoFIA platform for Android smartphones and tablets. Intel announced it will bring a quad-core SoFIA LTE part to market in the first half of 2015, and Asus announced a design based on the chip.
This follows last week's announcement of a strategic partnership with China-based Rockchip to develop a 3G quad-core SoFIA part for entry-level tablets. The Intel/Rockchip part is also due in the first half of 2015.
These SoFIA chips are manufactured by TSMC in its fabs and not Intel's own fabs. At this time, Intel's modem technology is only qualified on TSMC's process, so any integrated modem SoC must also be made in TSMC's process.
Taiwan's PC industry has been slow to ramp up tablet designs, as the big names like Apple and Samsung have dominated the market, along with the large contract manufacturers like Foxconn. The low end of the market is being served by the smaller mainland China companies in places like Shenzhen.
Intel included Foxconn in the keynote, where the mainland China company stressed its design capability by talking about its own Bay Trail tablet with full HD display. Foxconn stressed that compact tablet designs require customization, and its vertical design and manufacturing integration makes it possible to bring custom designs into production in only five months. While there's evidence that the tablet market growth has stalled, the market itself is splintering into many different segments, requiring custom designs for each -- there's no one-size-fits-all.
Rounding out the busy keynote was a new Intel PCIe SSD drive for datacenters, where it will compete with Fusion IO, Micron, SanDisk, and others. Separately, Intel's Devil's Canyon gaming platform showed an Intel Core i7 processor with all four CPU cores running at 4 GHz, which is great news for high-end gamers.
— Kevin Krewell is a principal analyst for Tirias Research.