Intel repeating its PC strategy in communications

Intel is planning a rerun of its PC strategy in its communications business.

In line with its strategy to provide the building blocks for the Internet, the company will deliver its communications technologies at different levels of integration, starting from silicon, through boards, full systems and software, according to John Miner, the company's vice president and general manager of its communications products group. Some of these products are being introduced through New Jersey-based Dialogic, an Intel acquisition that manufactures telecommunications and computer telephony components.

"In our Dialogic products, we have software interfaces, we have middleware interfaces that are built on industry standards and we have building-blocks technology that includes software and cards for enterprise and carrier applications. In the data centre, for example, we have products at multiple levels of integration as well," Miner said. Intel is, for instance, introducing building blocks at both the board and the system level for gateway vendors to build systems around its technology.

"An interesting example of this [systems strategy] is our voice portal application," added Miner. "This is a complete system that has the voice processing, the media processing card -- which can terminate, in this case, 96 ports -- as well as the software, and then each country can pick the right speech recognition software for a given language. There are many other areas where that kind of technology and strategy will be a key part of our plans, including for carrier networks."

Intel is also investing in "soft switch" platforms for networks which will enable the implementation of value-added services.

However, Intel is unlikely to compete at this point directly with the established telecommunications equipment makers and will instead view them as customers for its chips, according to Will Strauss, president of Forward Concepts a US-based market research firm focused on DSPs (digital signal processors) and new technology markets.

"Just as Intel is a major supplier of PC boards bearing their MPUs (microprocessor units), buried in selected PCs from Micron and Gateway, for example, I think they will also opt for moving to board-level products in the communications space, starting through their Dialogic division, which is already in CTI (computer telephony integration) boards for PC-based PBX-related (private branch exchange) systems and moving more heavily into the VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) board business," Strauss said.

Intel's acquisitions have helped bolster the company's systems expertise in the communications market.

"Over the past few years, we have acquired over 35 companies in the telecommunications and data communications industries, and these companies have brought to us a new set of competencies and expertise," said Miner.

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