Motorola DragonBall processors to run CE

Motorola Inc.'s MX1 DragonBall processor for handheld devices now supports Microsoft Corp.'s Windows CE operating system, the companies announced Wednesday.

The announcement makes Motorola the third major vendor to make chips for the handheld device market that can run Windows CE or components of it, said Scott Horn, director of marketing for the embedded and appliance platforms group at Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington.

Processors from chip vendors Intel Corp. and Texas Instruments Inc. also support Windows CE, and Transmeta Corp.'s Crusoe processor also recently was certified for the software.

"Anybody building a phone can choose from among those leading vendors" now that Motorola's chips are certified for the platform, Horn said.

Windows CE is a operating system for mobile devices and what Microsoft calls "small footprint" devices, such as personal digital assistants (PDAs) and cell phones. Microsoft licenses the operating system to internal and external customers, who can opt to include whatever portions of the source code they desire with their final product, such as Microsoft did with Pocket PC, Horn said.

"We have made this announcement as part of an overall strategic decision to become operating system agnostic," said Luis Quiroea, product marketing manager for Motorola, based in Schaumburg, Illinois. The company has already announced support for Linux, the Symbian operating system from Symbian Ltd., and PalmSource Inc.'s Palm OS 5, he said.

The MX1 Dragonball processor, based on the ARM920T core from ARM Ltd., runs at clock speeds up to 200MHz. It was the first processor to be certified for Palm OS 5, according to a Motorola press release in June.

The partnership between Motorola and Microsoft will allow handheld makers to produce less expensive devices for end users, due to the integrated wireless Internet connectivity and low power consumption of the MX1, combined with the multimedia capabilities of both the MX1 processor and Windows CE, Quiroea said.

Motorola will make an application development system available for Windows CE 3.0 on Wednesday. Support for the latest version, Windows CE .Net, will come by the end of 2002, it said in the release. Microsoft's Pocket PC and SmartPhone 2002 operating systems currently use source code from Windows CE 3.0, and as those products move toward the latest version, Motorola's processor will move with them, Horn said.

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