Intel will expand the use of its Atom microprocessors in consumer electronic devices with the purchase of Texas Instruments' cable modem chip division, it said Monday. The deal highlights Intel's struggle to compete against Arm Holdings as the processor company of choice in consumer electronics devices.
Intel has worked hard to get its Atom microprocessors into smaller devices where energy efficiency and cost are more important than raw computing power, but it lags behind Arm. Intel sells processors that are far more powerful than Arm's, but its focus on computing power over the years has been at the expense of energy efficiency. Intel has sought to catch up to Arm through its Atom line.
TI's Puma 5 family of chips for cable modems currently use Arm processing cores. "Intel will continue to sell the existing Puma products that are used in data and voice cable modems and continue to develop these products to address cable gateway applications. In the future, we plan to power the Puma product with the Intel Atom processor as well as to incorporate the product technology into future Intel SoC (system-on-chip) and platform designs," said Intel in a statement not included with the news release.
The new unit will become part of Intel's Digital Home Group and develop chips aimed at the cable industry, such as advanced set top boxes, residential gateways and modem products.
Intel said all employees of the TI cable modem business will join Intel at sites in their home countries, primarily Israel. The company believes the chip developers will add to its effort to expand its consumer electronics offerings, including complex SoC chips for digital TVs, Blu-ray Disc players, companion boxes and related devices, it said in the news release. "Adding the talents of the Texas Instruments‘ cable team to Intel’s efforts to bring its advanced technology to consumer electronics makes for a compelling combination," Intel said.
Intel declined to say how much it paid for the chip unit. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year after regulatory review and customary closing conditions have been met.