Gadgets

Intel ships its 4G LTE modem for faster wireless tablets and laptops

Above: Intel is diving into the mobile data wireless market with a new LTE chip

Image Credit: Intel

Intel announced today that its 4G LTE modem chip is now shipping in the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 tablet in Europe and Asia.

The new chip takes Intel into the fast-growing market for 4G LTE devices. It makes tablets and laptops much more mobile, as they can connect to the Internet via a mobile network rather than just a Wi-Fi network. The chip will take Intel into closer competition with rivals such as Qualcomm, which dominates the mobile wireless market.

Intel has said that the XMM 7160 LTE modem is a multimode modem, meaning it can handle various wireless protocols (2G, 3G, 4G LTE), voice, and a variety of worldwide mobile data standards. Intel said that it is also introducing new modules with the chips for mobile devices. Intel’s new module will support peak downlink speeds of 100 megabits per second over LTE networks. Those modules are expected to ship in 2014.

“As LTE networks expand at a rapid pace, 4G connectivity will be an expected ingredient in devices from phones to tablets as well as laptops,” said Hermann Eul, vice president and general manager of Intel’s Mobile and Communications Group. “Intel is providing customers an array of options for fast, reliable LTE connectivity while delivering a competitive choice and design flexibility for the mobile ecosystem.”

Intel designed the chip to work across a variety of markets, adapting as needed to whatever technology local networks use.

The market for 4G LTE devices is expected to be huge, as a billion mobile phones are shipping every year. Intel believes that LTE data networking will deliver the first Internet experience for many people in the world who depend on mobile phones for all of their computing.

Intel has been working on wireless for some time, particularly since it acquired the wireless division of Infineon some years ago.

In some countries, LTE networks will coexist with other kinds of multi-mode GSM networks.

The benefits of having good LTE include having high-speed wireless data networking include better performance for high-definition video and music streaming, video conferencing, gaming, and downloads. Voice carried over the LTE data network could also be more efficient than carrying it over the circuit-switched network.

But adoption will happen quicker if the industry can deal with band fragmentation, as there are more than 30 different LTE wireless spectrum bands worldwide. The lack of competition, device cost, power consumption, coexistence with other networks, and the ability to roam freely will be big challenges.

Intel’s XMM7160 chip can handle 15 LTE bands. It has 20 to 30 percent less power consumption than rival chips, Intel said. It is 12 percent smaller as a chip and works across multiple devices.

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