Samsung Electronics lifted the lid off its smart phone development work with Symbian Ltd.'s operating system and on Monday unveiled for the first time a prototype platform for cellular handset makers.
The platform, which was shown at the 3GSM World Congress Conference that began Monday in Cannes, France, is the first hardware to be shown by Samsung that runs the Symbian OS. The South Korean electronics maker said in March last year that it was working on a device as part of its smart phone development.
The prototype is centered around the Samsung Oyster application processor that was announced earlier this month. The Oyster chip combines a 206MHz ARM920T processor core designed by ARM Ltd., 32M bytes of flash memory and 32M bytes of SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM) in a single package that measures 17 millimeters square and is 1.4 millimeters high.
Alongside the Oyster chip in the sample board is Infineon's E-Gold+ V2, a GSM/GPRS (Global System for Mobile Communications/General Packet Radio Service) baseband processor. Software features of the sample include an embedded telephony module from TapRoot Systems Inc. and an MPEG-4 coder/decoder from PacketVideo.
Samsung's development of an application processor for cellular handsets comes at a time when several of its competitors are announcing new chips that combine both the application and baseband processor in a single chip.
Both Texas Instruments Inc. and Motorola Inc. both have devices that contain the two processors in a single package and Intel Corp. last week unveiled its first XScale processor to carry a baseband processor on-chip, the PXA800F. Such combo-chips are gaining favor because they take up less space inside the cramped handset and also consume less power than two separate chips.
With the sample board complete, the company is now setting about refining the design to a point where it can be sold as an off-the-shelf cellular handset design. Using such a design rather than designing one from scratch can reduce the time it takes for a handset maker to get a product to market.
"Currently it's just at the sample stage," said Park Sung Hae, a spokeswoman for Samsung Electronics in South Korea. "We have to fine tune this into a reference board."
Park said the company has not yet committed to producing a commercial design based on the work on show in Cannes although said there is a "high possibility" that it will be offering such a design or boards in the future.
Late last year Samsung announced development work with Microsoft Corp. on reference designs for personal digital assistants (PDAs) based on Microsoft's Pocket PC software. As with the most recent development, the reference designs and boards are intended to reduce the time and cost of bringing a product from the design stage to the market.