Intel turns to ARM chip maker Rockchip to expand in low-cost tablet market

Intel will design a variant of its Sofia chip for Rockchip

Intel hopes to expand its offerings for the low-cost Android market by working with Chinese chip maker, Rockchip, which primarily makes ARM chips.

As part of an agreement reached on Monday, the two companies will jointly deliver an Intel-branded mobile chip platform. The first chip, due in the first half of 2015, will be for low-cost Android devices based on Intel's Sofia architecture, which integrates an Atom processor and 3G modem.

Intel will make a quad-core derivative of the Sofia chip for Rockchip. Intel and Rockchip make for strange bedfellows. Rockchip's chip business currently revolves around smartphone, tablet and embedded processors based on the ARM architecture. But by adding Intel's x86 chip architecture to its line of processors, Rockchip could further increase its presence in low-cost smartphones and tablets, where it currently has a foothold.

A customized chip for Rockchip will be the first such deal of its type struck by Intel for mobile devices. Intel is not licensing its intellectual property, but this agreement is "designed specifically to expand the breadth of and accelerate the rate at which we bring our Intel architecture and communications solutions to more customers and segments of the global market for entry and value tablets," said Kari Aakre, an Intel spokeswoman.

Intel is working closely with Rockchip's design teams to modify the design of Sofia to create the customized quad-core chip. The chip will be initially manufactured by TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.), Aakre said.

Intel has not shied away from customizing chips, but it does so for only specific clients that buy chips in bulk. Intel currently customizes server chips for companies like Facebook and Google.

Though Rockchip, Intel has an avenue to reach out to the little-known device makers -- also known as "white-box" vendors -- in the fast-growing China market. Rockchip competes with other ARM chip makers like Qualcomm, Mediatek, Allwinner, Samsung and Nvidia.

Intel is also planning dual-core variants of the Sofia chip for release next year. The integrated 3G modem in Sofia is based on ARM architecture, while the application processor is based on x86.

Intel will share more details about the chip at the Computex trade show next month in Taipei.

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

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags tabletsintelprocessorshardware systemsComponentsRock Chip

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?