Chip manufacturer Intel has unveiled faster microprocessors designed to bring high performance and long battery life to wireless communications devices.
The company has released three PXA250 chips, running at 200MHz, 300MHz and 400MHz, aimed at high-end handheld devices such as Compaq's iPaq.
The processors come with 64Kb of on-chip cache and integrated components such as memory and expansion controllers, which will reduce power consumption.
All three chips are based on Intel's XScale architecture, the company's next generation of StrongARM, which is built around a core design from the UK firm ARM.
Peter Glaskowsky, an analyst at MicroDesign Resources, explained that Intel will no longer use the StrongARM name as part of the product brand. "Eventually we expect the original StrongARM chips to be phased out in favour of XScale products," he said.
StrongARM currently dominates the high end of the PDA market. "Every Pocket PC on the market uses StrongARM and we expect every new Pocket PC introduced in the next few months to use StrongARM or Xscale," said Glaskowsky.
And as new applications evolve that require more processor performance, XScale will become a very powerful force in both the Palm-like device and mobile phone markets, he added.
Mark Casey, Intel's director of marketing for handheld communications, maintained that this is "a true leap forward in terms of capabilities. Intel is at least a generation ahead of the competition."
Acer, Compaq, Fujitsu, Hewlett Packard, Hitachi, NEC, Symbol Technologies and Toshiba will all support the new processors.
Products using the new chips are expected to be available to consumers by the middle of this year, according to Casey.
Market researcher Cahners In-Stat/MDR has estimated that, of the 400 million handsets sold worldwide in 2001, only about three per cent can process large amounts of information.
By 2005, Cahners said that more than half of the expected 900 million mobile phones sold that year will be data-enabled.
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