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Friday, January 19, 2007, 03:00 pm PT (06:00 pm ET)

Intel exec claims iPhone runs on Xscale chip

As part of a recent interview with an Italian trade paper, an Intel exec explained that the chipmaker's involvement with Apple's iPhone's hardware was at once more substantial and complex than previously thought.

Intel Italy chief Dario Bucci told Il Sole 24 Ore that while the semiconductor firm had no direct part to play in the CPU powering Apple's new handset, the chip is still an Xscale and therefore shared a link to the company's efforts.

Intel had originally developed the Xscale platform in 2002 while branching out into mobile phones and PDAs, but later sold the architecture to Marvell Technology group in June of last year when it chose to return its attention to x86 and Itanium designs. Bucci identified Marvell as the source of the Xscale during the interview.

The explanation may help explain the contradictory statements made by Apple and Intel last week when the two companies were asked about the underlying hardware of the iPhone. A spokesman for the Cupertino-based developer initially claimed that Intel was directly responsible for the low-power processor, but promptly had his argument refuted by Intel in a statement supplied just hours later.

Intel's headman also made the surprising but unverified claim that the company was also responsible for the flash memory used to store music and other information in the phone, asserting not only that its NAND chips were used but that Apple was now one of Intel's primary clients.

If true, this admission may be a double blow to Samsung according to technology news site Electronista, which pointed out that Samsung was both a direct competitor in the phone business and a potential parts supplier. The Korean electronics firm already supplies media processors for Apple's iPod shuffle and flash for the iPod nano.