Intel preps 65 nm "Tavor" processor for cellphones

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Intel preps 65 nm "Tavor" processor for cellphones

Chicago (IL) – With all the buzz surrounding Intel’s upcoming Core microarchitecture, one could almost miss what is happening in the firm’s other business groups. And if our well-informed sources are correct, the Intel will soon take another swing at the cellphone segment.

Intel has been present in the cellphone space since the introduction of the first Xscale processor in 2001. However, Intel was never able to crack the mainstream segment, which is dominated by processor solution from companies such as Texas Instruments. Our sources now indicate that Intel is working on a capable new cellphone platform that drives down the bill of materials and may appeal to more than just smartphones.

Following the recently unveiled “Hermon” platform and the upcoming “Monahans” processor, will be a new solution that combines processing elements: Compared to current designs, which – in Intel’s case – consist of a cellular processor (Xscale PXA900 series) and a separate application processor (Xscale PXA270 series with “Bulverde” core), the next generation will merge those two chips into one chip, which is currently code-named “Tavor”.

The one-chip-design, a transition to a 65 nm production process as well as merged RF subsystem chips does not only reduce space required by a cellphone’s main hardware components by about one third, it also decreases manufacturing cost substantially. Sources indicated that the reference board design based on Tavor will cost around $40 – including processor, flash memory, RF chips and a power management unit.

While the bill of materials may be reduced, we hear that Intel still will not be targeting the very low-end of the cellphone market, but may be aiming for the CDMA-based mainstream as soon as 3G WCDMA penetrates the mass market. Intel apparently will not offer Tavor designs for GSM-based networks.