Intel considers selling off McAfee antivirus business

Intel is weighing up whether to sell off its security group which is predominantly built on technologies acquired from antivirus firm McAfee, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.

Intel acquired McAfee in 2010 for around $7.7bn with the aim to provide better security by embedding protections at the chip-level for computing devices. The company hoped it would be able to differentiate its mobile chips, such as its Atom line, but six years on it has failed to crack a market that remains dominated by Qualcomm’s ARM-based processors.

According to the FT, Intel has been in talks with bankers about a possible sale. If Intel Security was sold for the amount Intel acquired McAfee for, it would outsize other recent mega deals, such as Symantec’s acquisition of Blue Coat Security.

With shrinking PC sales, and a slow-down in mobile, Intel has shifted its focus to servers for cloud computing and the Internet of Things, the latter being a small but growing business.

Intel has made a number of major changes over the past year, including appointing Qualcomm’s former co-president Venkata Renduchintala as second in charge at Intel. Renduchintala is leading Intel’s $1.2bn reorganisation and cull of 12,000 jobs announced in April.

Intel in May scrapped plans for two Atom chips, Sofia and Broxton, shortly after announcing the reduction. The chips were exclusively for smartphones and tablets and signalled its retreat from mobile.

Intel famously missed out on the shift to 4G by betting on WiMax and has been playing catch up on mobile ever since. Today it is fully supporting 5G, which is expected to support tens of billions of wirelessly connected IoT devices once it comes online around 2020.

“5G is the inflection point from network needs driven largely by PCs and smartphones to an entirely new platform that connects a broad range of “things” to each other, to people and to the cloud,” wrote Renduchintala after reports Intel was quitting mobile.

“Intel is creating the next wave of world-class connectivity assets — LTE and 5G modems, RF, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Ethernet — needed to power devices, networking and storage. We’re aligning our products and architectures to an entire panorama of smart and connected devices, and in so doing we’re enabling exciting new experiences. We are not exiting mobile, but we are broadening its definition to make it synonymous with the interconnectedness of the more than 50 billion ‘things’,” he added.

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