Has Intel finally broken into the cell phone market?

[updated] Intel and Nokia announced today they have created a strategic alliance to cooperate on future mobile devices as computing and communications converge.

They did not specifically say that Nokia will use Intel’s Atom processors in cell phones in a conference call this morning. But  Anand Chandrasekher, head of the Atom business unit at Intel, said that Intel will work on x86-based designs with Nokia.

On top of that, Nokia will work with Intel on future versions of Moblin, a Linux-based operating system aimed at netbooks and other computing/communications hybrid devices. And Intel will license Nokia’s HSDPA 3G technology, which is a radio to deliver calls and data over the same broadband wireless network.

If it’s true that Nokia will use Intel’s processors in its next-generation phones, it’s a big deal. The world’s biggest chip maker has been trying for years to break into the cell phone processor market. While it rules computer chips, Intel hasn’t had much luck with cell phones. It tried before with the StrongArm chips that it acquired from Digital Equipment.

But it faltered during the communications bust and sold that business to Marvell. In the past couple of years, Intel designed and launched Atom, a low-power version of its x86 computer chips. Intel has said that while the current Atom chips are targeted at netbooks, or small laptops, future versions would have low enough power to be used in cell phones.

Back in February, LG Electronics said it would use Intel’s Atom chips in mobile Internet devices, which are hybrids of cell phones and laptops. That LG device will debut in 2010 and use Moorestown, which is the code name for the platform which houses a future Intel Atom chip.

But Chandrasekher and Nokia’s executive vice president, Kai Oistomo, repeatedly refused to provide any product details about the future products. They only said they will be new classses of devices that reflect the convergence of computing and communications.

[picture: Nokia's futuristic cell phone project, unwiredview.com]


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