Fed up with dealing with Chinese mandarins and regulations, Intel is investing in Chinese-government affiliated mobile chipmakers Spreadtrum and RDA Microelectronics.
The move is to catch up to Qualcomm in a way which will not anger the Chinese government. It was unclear how much Intel is paying or what portion of the companies the US chipmaker is buying. The acquisition could be made through Tsinghua Unigroup, a government-affiliated private equity firm controlled by Tsinghua University in Beijing. Tsinghua owns Spreadtrum and RDA.
Intel has been looking to partner with mobile chipmakers in the hope they can help it gain the market dominance it has enjoyed with personal computers. No one is commenting at the moment, so this is just a rumour. But there have been several reports in China of a potential deal, including one on the sina.com.cn news portal quoting unnamed sources as saying Intel would get 20 percent of Tsinghua Unigroup for $1.5 billion.
The Beijing government has said in published policy papers it views semiconductors as an industry of vital strategic importance and hopes to spur its development domestically. China is the world's largest smartphone manufacturer and smartphone market. Intel, reached an agreement with Chinese chip maker Rockchip to make inexpensive tablet chips with Intel's architecture and branding.
Any deal will help Intel’s ability to develop "system on chips" or SoCs, the key processors on mobile devices, which combine features such as modems, WiFi and memory.