Intel readying new XScale chip for mobile phones

Intel Corp. is preparing to strengthen its XScale processor line-up for cellular and smart phones later this year with the launch of a next-generation processor code-named Manitoba, according to company executives interviewed at the Computex Taipei 2002 show.

"Manitoba is the next version of the XScale processor," said Michael Splinter, executive vice president of Intel. "I don't think we have announced an introduction date other than sometime at the end of the year."

"It will really be geared at cell phones and smart phones. While some people are already adopting our SA1110 StrongArm product and some will adopt our PXA250 (XScale), Manitoba is really the product that has great power levels and application base for cell phones," he said.

The processor is based on an XScale core running at 312MHz and, unlike Intel's present offerings for cell phones, includes a digital signal processor (DSP), said Lance Liu, technical marketing manager for Intel's Asia-Pacific wireless communications and computing group.

Integrating a DSP with the processor helps save space and power, as cell-phone makers will no longer have to use a separate DSP chip. Some competing processors, such as Texas Instruments Inc.'s Omap, already include a DSP.

Other features of Manitoba include 32M bytes of flash memory and 512K bytes of synchronous DRAM. The company will build support for GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) and GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) into Manitoba but does not, at present, have plans to support other systems such as CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access).

Intel expects the new chip will provide enough power for advanced cellular handsets running applications such as wireless Internet access, small Java applets and more basic telephone functions. More advanced smart phones, such as those running Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Powered Smartphone 2002 operating system, might require an additional applications processor such as one of the current line-up of XScale processors, said Liu.

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