COMPUTEX: Intel open to Windows Phone OS on smartphones

Intel has the "hooks" to bring Windows Phone OS to smartphones with x86 chips, but only if it is commercially viable, says an exec

Intel is open to bringing Microsoft's Windows Phone OS to smartphones based on its x86 chips, but only if it is commercially viable.

Windows Phone's share of the smartphone market is underwhelming at the moment, but the OS is worth watching, said Hermann Eul, president of Intel's Mobile Communications Group, during an interview with the IDG News Service at the Computex trade show in Taiwan. Intel will consider putting Windows Phone OS on x86 depending on how the OS does in the market in the future.

"We would be [interested] when we see that this market has a good chance to return our money that we have invested into this," Eul said. "Our roadmap has devices that can support Windows also on phones. So we can do that. The hooks for doing that [are] there."

Intel is just getting started in the smartphone market. The first smartphones with Intel processors came out earlier this year, with Lava International releasing the Xolo X900 smartphone in India, followed by Orange releasing the San Diego in the U.K and Lenovo launching the LePhone K800 in China. Other smartphones with Intel chips will come from Motorola later this year, while ZTE is also scheduled to release an Intel-based handset. The smartphones use single-core Atom processors code-named Medfield.

A majority of the smartphones based on Intel chips currently run Google's Android OS, and the chips also support the Linux-based Tizen OS. Intel merged its previous Meego OS into Tizen, which is also backed by Samsung.

"The current trend of statistics is pretty clear, Android is gaining the largest share of the market so that is where the money is," Eul said. "We support Tizen as well, we haven't announced any product on this, but being in the Tizen alliance it's clear we are also engaged there."

Intel's main smartphone competitor is ARM, whose processors go into most handsets. There were questions on whether Intel would match ARM on power consumption, but Eul said the response to Intel's smartphones has exceeded expectations.

"We see substantial interest in our platforms in particular after customers really see the devices in the market and see Intel is really there. With that all the badmouthing on power consumption, and cannot do it, and so on is put to rest," Eul said.

Later this year, Intel will release a dual-core Atom Z2580 processor with 3G, 4G and LTE capabilities as a follow up to the first Z2460 smartphone chip. Next year Intel will release a low-power Atom chip code-named Merrifield with a new processor design and graphics core for high-performance smartphones. The chip will be made using the 22-nanometer process.

For low-end smartphones, next year Intel will release an integrated chip made using the 22nm production process. The chip will succeed the current Atom Z2000 processor, which runs at 1GHz but is not yet being used in smartphones. By 2014, Intel will release chips made using the 14nm process, though Intel officials declined to share further chip details.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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Agam Shah

IDG News Service
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