Intel has announced that its Atom processor will power Nissan's next-generation infotainment systems in select vehicles starting in 2013.
The chip giant, which is looking to broaden its reach, also forged a deal with Toyota in late 2011. Under that pact, Intel and Toyota would research new infotainment systems. Intel also has Atom deals with BMW and Mercedes-Benz infotainment systems.
Ton Steenman, vice president of intelligent systems at Intel, said the effort with Nissan is about "extending the digital lifestyle of consumers from home to vehicles." And yes, Intel could move a lot of chips by locking up automakers, he added. Consumers spend about two months of every year in their cars, he said.
Automakers have increasingly been focused on developing infotainment systems as a way to differentiate themselves from the pack. Ford has its Sync system and a bevy of others are following suit with apps and other links to smartphones.
Under the deal with Nissan, Intel is taking a similar route. The two companies will research and develop "innovative driving experiences." Joint research will bolster the connection between cars and consumer electronics. Nissan and Intel already collaborate on joint research via Intel Labs.
Specifically, Intel's Atom chip will power a twin-display in-vehicle infotainment system that appears in the Infinity LE. The Infinity LE is a zero-emissions concept vehicle that made its debut at the New York International Auto Show. The twin-screen system delivers traffic and navigation information on one side with entertainment on the other.
Nissan hasn't detailed what models will be packing Intel chips and the new infotainment systems.
The companies added that joint research will revolve around mobile device to vehicle links, cloud services, video surveillance via smartphone, and access to devices.
In the future, Intel expects to add more software to the auto supply chain too. These software platforms will be embedded on chips and Steenman noted there will be security applications via its McAfee unit.