Intel launches chip for new push into low-price smartphones




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(Reuters) – Intel Corp is shipping mobile chips represent the semiconductor company’s biggest hope for making smartphones this year.

Responding to a growing market China for low-cost handsets often priced below $100, Intel announced plans for the chip, code named Sofia, late 2013 at a meeting investors.

“We went from PowerPoint to shipping 15 months,” said Aicha Evans, General Manager of Intel’s Platform Engineering Group.

As well as smartphones, the Sofia chip fills a gap in Intel’s lineup of chips for tablets.

Over 20 manufactures to devices made Sofia, many display at this week’s Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, Spain, Evans said.

After falling behind in mobile chips, Intel has been rushing to catch Qualcomm Incand ’s MediaTek Inc. Qualcomm said Monday will start testing its newest top-tier smartphone chip, the Snapdragon 820, with manufacturers in late 2015.

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In a costly strategy elevated Intel to the No 2 spot in tablet chip market share, Intel last year paid manufacturers some of the engineering cost of developing low-end tablets using another chip, code named Bay Trail, originally had designed for expensive devices.

Intel has declined to say how much paid tablet makers to use its Bay Trail chips, but ’s mobile unit had a loss of $4.2 billion last year, worse than its $3.1 billion loss in 2013.

Intel believes the Sofia chips are ideal for the fast-growing, low-end smartphone market in Asia and has said it does not to use costly subsidies to sell the chips this year.

The Sofia chips currently shipping have 3G features for low-end phones, and 4G versions for pricier smartphones will be released later this year, the company added.