Rumor has it that typing 5318008 into a calculator and flipping it upside down on the boardroom table wasn’t quite enough to convince Texas Instruments to hand over their handheld number crunching business to Intel. However, the impressive feat of juvenile numerical rotation was enough to convince TI to hand over its cable modem division.
Intel plans to use this newly acquired technology to “…combine Texas Instruments’ best-of-breed Puma product lines with the Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) standard technology and Intel SoCs to deliver advanced set top box, residential gateway and modem products for the cable industry.” One idea behind this technology merger is to create highly customizable set top/gateway devices that will allow providers to offer unique features to their customers.
Perhaps the primary objective behind this move however is the continued proliferation of x86 into new markets. Ferengi rule of acquisition #45, “Expand or die.” This obviously helps Intel move more of its Atom processors, but more importantly fires a warning shot across the bow of their main low power consumer electronics competitor, ARM. X86 is nothing new in the set top box arena as manufacturers have been stuffing cheap ITX/uATX boards in DVR+tuner boxes for quite some time. If Intel can reinforce this install base and create a compelling ‘sandbox’ platform that keeps the ever improving ARM chips out of living rooms, so much the better.
The Atom madness doesn’t stop at cable modems and set-top boxes however, Intel has its heart set on developing solutions for everything from digital tvs and Blu-ray players to kitty litter boxes and Swiffer Sweepers. If Intel has its way an ARM will be the thing you have to move ever so slightly to hit the channel button on your Atom powered remote control, to change your Atom powered television to some other station streamed live from an Atom powered cloud server farm.
Where’s the Atom powered food replicator… I’m out of Cheetos. Hop to it Intel. S|A