Intel Rings Up New PDA, Phone Chips

The company's latest XScale processors deliver wireless broadband access, video-conferencing, and DVD-quality video.

Intel beefed up its mobile lineup Monday with the launch of its PXA27x family of processors, formerly code-named "Bulverde."

The Santa Clara, Calif., chip making giant said the chips handle multiple forms of wireless broadband access including 3G, GSM/GPRS, Wi-Fi, WiMAX and Bluetooth technologies. Also, the chips are the first in the XScale family to use Intel's Wireless MMX technology and SpeedStep technology.

The combination gives the chips enough power for full motion video-conferencing on cell phones and DVD-quality video for PDAs.

"As various forms of wireless broadband access become increasingly available, mobile devices must have plenty of performance balanced with low power capabilities," Sean Maloney, Intel's executive vice president and Communications Group leader, said in a statement.

Maloney's group has been putting a lot of effort behind Bulverde after the group had to deal with a $611 million goodwill write-down and restructuring three months ago. Intel would not say how much the chip cost to develop, but the company's last financial statement suggested that a significant amount of Intel's $4.4 billion research and development funds would need to be pumped into communications to offset the losses. The company has timed the announcement to its touring Developers Forum in Taiwan this week.

As a start, Intel is offering the PXA27x family in sample quantities, with the majority of the supply shipping before the end of June. The processor family will be offered in multiple configurations of clock speeds running from 312 MHz up to 624 MHz, and with as much as 64 megabytes of stacked Intel StrataFlash memory. First of the block is Intel's PXA270 processor at 312 MHz, which sells at $32 in 10,000 unit quantities.

As a compliment to the Bulverde chips in PDAs, Intel is also serving up its 2700G Multimedia Accelerator ($17 in 10,000 unit quantities). The accelerator (formerly code-named "Marathon") includes DVD-quality video playback on VGA displays and supports video formats such as MPEG-2, MPEG-4 and Microsoft Windows Media Video9. The accelerator also handles high-resolution (up to SXVGA) dual display features so business users can view two independent images simultaneously.

When used in a cell phone, the platform supports full-featured operating systems from companies like Microsoft , PalmSource , Symbian as well as MontaVista Linux and Java environments. Developed in conjunction with system integrator Intrinsyc, the handheld concept design uses Intel's new processor along with the multimedia accelerator and 64MB of Wireless Intel StrataFlash.

The company said the Bulverde chips will also take advantage of its Intel Mobile Scaleable Link, a high-speed interface that moves data from the wireless networks to the processor at speeds of up to 416 megabits per second.

Other features in the Bulverde family include security through Intel's Wireless Trusted Platform, which support services such as trusted boot, secure storage of private information and cryptographic keys, and support for common security protocols. To help increase camera phone capabilities and quality, Intel has also incorporated Intel Quick Capture technology to support cameras delivering up to four or more megapixels of image quality.

To help prime the pump for developers, as well as system and application engineers, Intel is also offering its Intel Compiler and Intel Integrated Performance Primitives, as well as optimized board support packages with drivers and power management software. OS vendors and ISVs like Sony Music Entertainment have already used the tools to build up their libraries, Intel said.






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