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Intel gets ex-Freescale French engineers onboard

Posted: 13 Oct 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Freescale France engineers  3G  Intel Atom  processor 

Intel Corp. is hiring a team of 53 3G system integration engineers from Freescale's cellular products group based in Toulouse, in the South of France.

This is not news since France's Ministry of Industry previously issued an official statement. What's news are Intel's intentions and motivations.

Intel said it aims to enhance its 3G wireless capabilities around the company's Intel Atom processor and products including smart phones and MIDs. Freescale's 3G system engineers in Toulouse will help the chip giant in that sense.

Indeed, Intel explained, the Toulouse team brings a history of solid experience in building wireless system solutions based on platform ingredients, such as modem, connectivity and application processors. "The engineers will contribute to the development of Atom-based platforms that enable the delivery of Internet computing in your pocket with a choice of high-bandwidth mobile broadband communications," the company stated.

Intel specified that the 3G system integration and validation engineers will not be relocated since Intel has leased their existing offices in Toulouse. The engineers will begin work immediately and will collaborate with Intel teams around the world.

In a recent interview with EE Times, Forward Concepts Inc.'s principal analyst Will Strauss commented: "Intel wants to get back into the cellular chip business since such chips will be required for future 3G-capable netbooks and MIDs. Intel has acquired the 3G intellectual property from Nokia, and Nokia has entered the netbook market with the help of Intel."

He continued: "If Intel already has a facility in Toulouse, it makes sense to beef it up with newly-available wireless talent. TI's biggest layoffs from the cellular business occurred last April, likely including redundancies at the TI Toulouse facility. And I presume that Intel acquired some of those former TI employees, beginning Intel's wireless direction in Toulouse. RF design talent is rare, so Intel's moves are smart."

According to Strauss, "Only Intel has the financial muscle to enter the cellular chip market, even if it has no plans to sell those chips to other companies since its Atom-based business is already in the tens of millions of netbooks/MIDs per year. Since France has the available talent, I believe that Intel will continue beefing up their Toulouse operations, but now as primarily a wireless centre."

As part of its own transformation efforts, Freescale announced on April 22 its intention to close a 150mm fab in Toulouse with 800 employees, by the end of 2011 and to cease the cellular product activity by the end of 2009, affecting 236 employees. Freescale said it would continue to have operations at the site following these proposed actions.

The Freescale Toulouse fab's 68,000-square-foot factory produces power management products for the automotive market and has manufacturing capabilities that extend down to the 0.65µm technology node. Freescale Toulouse Fab started production in 1969.

- Anne-Francoise Pele
EE Times Europe

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