Intel announced the commercial availability of its discrete LTE-Advanced modem, the XMM 7260, which it previewed earlier this year at MWC as one of the first global LTE-Advanced modems. The modem will soon ship inside the new Samsung Galaxy Alpha smartphone. Intel has also managed to have its five-mode XMM 7262 LTE FDD/TDD chipset certified on China Mobile, China’s largest carrier, which gives the company access to the largest mobile market in the world.
Intel got into the 3G/LTE game when it acquired the wireless division of Infineon back in 2011. In 2013 it also bought Fujitsu Wireless, so Intel’s intentions about the LTE market are rather clear – the company wants to become a strong player in what it believes will be a high-growth market. Intel is now making LTE modems for its own x86 Atom chips, but also for other ARM processors, which are currently in the vast majority of mobile devices.
Qualcomm, the leader in mobile processors and LTE modems, has grown its business by combining the two type of chips to improve cost, cut down on time to market for OEMs (easier to launch in products) and also improve costs for OEMs by bundling them together.
This has been a strong and successful strategy for Qualcomm, but at the same time it has left a significant void in the market for discrete 3G/LTE modems for those OEMs that don’t want to use Qualcomm’s chips. This is the type of customer Intel hopes to win in the near future, with the goal of eventually becoming a close second to Qualcomm in LTE modem market share.
The new XMM 726x modem platform supports carrier aggregation of up to 40 MHz combined bandwidth on a single RF transceiver. Other features include:
- CAT 6 (300 Mbps theoretical peak downlink speeds)
- Voice over LTE (VoLTE)
- Seamless LTE FDD/TDD/TD-SCDMA/WCMDA/2G switching
- Flexible interconnect to application processors
- Support for 22 bands simultaneously in a single SKU
Intel expects to launch modems based on the XMM 726x platform in other regions such as Australia, China, Europe, Latin America, North America and South Korea by the end of this year.