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Intel to Acquire iPhone Supplier Infineon's Wireless Chip Unit


Intel today confirmed long-standing rumors by announcing that it will acquire the Wireless Solutions (WLS) unit of German firm Infineon for $1.4 billion. The move gives Intel a significant expansion into the market for smartphone chips as it continues to try to build interest in its own Atom platform for mobile and netbook devices.

Through this effort, Intel will pair WLS' best-in-class cellular technology with its core strengths to enable the delivery of low-power, Intel-based platforms that combine its applications processor with an expanded portfolio of wireless options -- bringing together Intel's leadership in Wi-Fi and WiMAX with WLS' leadership in 2G and 3G, and a combined path to accelerate 4G LTE.

The acquisition is notable for Apple, as the company has long eschewed Intel's offerings for its mobile devices in favor of ARM-based technology. Infineon's wireless unit has, however, supplied the baseband controller for supporting cellular connectivity in every generation of the iPhone.

While Intel and Apple have been key partners on the Mac platform since Apple began moving away from the PowerPC platform with the release of the Mac Pro in 2006, the two companies have not seen fit to work together on the mobile side of things. Intel has in the past been critical of the iPhone's use of ARM-based processor technology, claiming that any device seeking to access the "full Internet" needs to be based on Intel's technology.