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Wednesday, October 22, 2008, 06:00 am PT (09:00 am ET)

Intel says iPhone not capable of 'full Internet'

Intel Corp. this week used a developer forum in Taipei to tout its upcoming Moorestown platform for next-generation mobile Internet devices (MIDs) while slamming Apple's iPhone as a device bogged down by its use of ARM processors.

Following his keynote presentation at the conference, Intel vice president of mobility Shane Wall teamed with colleague Pankaj Kedia, the chipmaker's ultra-mobility ecosystems director, in lambasting the iPhone as a device dependent on technology that's a full two to three years behind that which Intel can offer.

"If you want to run full internet, you're going to have to run an Intel-based architecture," Wall told the gathering of engineers. He said the "iPhone struggles" when tasked with running "any sort of application that requires any horse power."

"The shortcomings of the iPhone are not because of Apple," added Kedia. "The shortcomings of the iPhone have come from ARM."

He said other handset vendors, not just Apple, face the same problem in that their smartphones are "not very smart" because "they use ARM." Wall argued that the iPhone has fallen short in a number of areas, despite its great user interface and supporting marketing blitz orchestrated by chief executive Steve Jobs.

As such, neither executive believes the iPhone will achieve "fast, full internet" any time in the near future if it continues to rely on ARM-based processors.

"Even if they do have full capability, the performance will be so poor," Wall said. To that, Kedia added: "I know what their roadmap is, I know where they're going and I'm not worried."

Apple's recent acquisition of fabless chip designer P.A. Semi appears to have all but cemented the future of the iPhone and iPod in ARM technologies. The electronics maker was recently fingered as the 'long term architecture licensee' of ARM's current and future technology for use in mobile computing.

Steve Jobs said earlier this year that buyout of P.A. Semi would drive the future of his company's handheld products, and it was later revealed PA Semi's senior principle architect is busy at Apple managing a team developing a custom ARM chip that will power a new generation of iPhones.

Apple is also believed to be the mysterious licensee of Imagination Technologie's current and future PowerVR graphics technologies, which are likely to be tied into its future ARM-based iPhone system-on-a-chip (SoC) designs.