Intel, the world’s biggest semiconductor maker, will on Thursday announce a wide- ranging partnership with the carmaker BMW, ranging from support for its Formula One racing team to co-operation on standards for in-car equipment.
The deal represents the biggest example so far of chipmakers’ identification with fast cars and shows how they are competing to provide more sophisticated components for the automotive industry.
Since 2002, Advanced Micro Devices, Intel’s biggest processor rival, has been a technology partner of Ferrari, a team that has since won three championships and 38 grand prixs. It is also technology partner for world motorsport’s governing body, the FIA, and the US’s Nascar organisation.
Infineon, the German chipmaker, has paid to have a Nascar racetrack named after it in California and Texas Instruments sponsors a leading Nascar racing team.
Intel said its technology would be deployed throughout the BMW Group and its worldwide dealer network. BMW would convert its corporate notebooks to those based on Intel’s Centrino processor and would work with Intel on an industry specification that would allow devices such as phones and portable media players to work with BMW vehicles.
“Intel has a proven track record for establishing standards for markets and car infotainment is another major opportunity,” Eric Kim, Intel chief marketing officer, told the FT.
“Larger enterprises are coming to the conclusion now that it is better to standardise on a common technology foundation. We think more and more companies will be taking BMW’s path.”
Intel’s sponsorship of the Toyota Formula 1 team expires at the end of the month and there had been rumours for months that it would partner with the more successful McLaren team.
But it will instead be the partner for BMW’s newly acquired Sauber team, replacing AMD, which is providing more than 500 of its Opteron processors for a supercomputer that analyses wind-tunnel results for streamlining the design of cars.
“It will be interesting to see how they move forward with that,” said Morris Denton, AMD corporate marketing vice-president. “It’s not that simple to replace a supercomputer or the processors in it.”
“We have existing relationships with a variety of the teams, so there are opportunities for our competitor to come in and do some [technology partnerships], we look forward to the competition.”