Intel is to reveal a new chip with built-in graphics next week in a bid to grab a share of the smartphone market. The new chip – code named Sandy Bridge – would remove the need for a separate graphics chip in computers and enable smart phone visuals.
At the same time, ARM, one of the least known but most profitable companies in the IT sector which currently designs the majority of smartphone chips, has also launched a new chip that could potentially be five times faster than its current model, according to the BBC.
A spokesperson for Intel told BBC news its new chip is an important step for the company.
“[It is important] in the context of the continuing move to mobility as it allows for tighter integration between the CPU and graphics components, delivering better performance and power management,” they said.
Although Intel currently sells single units that can cope with both graphics and processing, the sets comprise two separate chips: a central processing unit (CPU) and the graphic processing unit (GPU).
While power usage is not a major issue for desktop PCs, the problem becomes more significant for laptops and is a key issue for smartphones, where any extra power demand will shorten battery life.
Intel attempted to expand into the mobile computing market in 2008 when it launched its Atom chips. Although far smaller than Intel’s usual chipsets, they still comprised a separate GPU and CPU and were still too large and power hungry to be acceptable for smartphones.
Smartphones are expected to outsell PCs within the next 12 months due to their explosive growth in popularity and a saturation of the PC market.
ARM designed the A4 chip used in Apple’s iPhone 4 and iPad. The company’s new Cortex-A15 MPCore chip will run with a clock speed of 2.5 GHz, which could result in far faster processing speeds, with a minimal impact on power usage.
This means iPads and iPhones could be five times faster, with some analysts saying ARM’s new chip is “as significant to the smartphone market as the Pentium was to the desktop market”.
Alex Watson, editor of Custom PC magazine told the BBC: “The pressure is really on Intel, because they are wedded to the technology that made them rich for the past 30 years.
“They are determined to catch up using their existing technology, rather than starting again, but they are very short of time.
“There are almost a million smartphones being sold every day and Intel are not in a single one. If the firm is to remain viable, it needs a slice of that market.”