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With decisive year ahead, Intel invests in wireless patents and fabrication

As the PC market continues its decline, Intel needs as many smartphone design wins as possible. To achieve mobile success, the Santa Clara-based company has been buying wireless patents, while also beefing up investment in fabrication.
February 11, 2013

Last year, Intel signed a multi-year, multi-device strategic relationship with Motorola Mobility and they’ve  since struck a deal with Google/Motorola to acquire “patents and patent applications’’ along with “tangible assets of the company located in the US” and “rights to hire some American employees of Motorola Mobility”.

In June 2012, Intel also bought 1,700 patents and related rights related to 3G, 4G, and Wi-Fi technology for $375 Million from InterDigital, as well as $75 Million worth of Wi-Fi and LTE patents and patent applications from Aware Inc.

InterDigital is seen in the industry as the ARM of the wireless technology market, while Aware is an “innovator of advanced processing and analysis of digital data”. The patent acquisition has been a part of Intel’s big spending that began in 2011 and is set to peak this year at $13 billion. But it’s not only patent shopping, with $2 billion set aside this year for the expansion of a fabrication plant in Oregon, which will allow for manufacturing of silicon wafers measuring 450mm, so that future 14/10nm chipsets can be produced more cost-effectively.

If Intel decides to spend big in order to improve production and to acquire wireless tech intellectual property, they could be making a bigger push into the mobile market than many expect. Some analysts are even going as far as to speculate that Intel could be pushing into building its own devices. Or, they could be gearing up to provide their chipsets in a wider range of devices across the lower mid-range, competing with Mediatek for the lead in this burgeoning market.

Whatever happens, 2013 could be the year of make or break for Intel. As the PC market continues its decline, the Santa Clara-based company needs as many smartphone design wins as possible.