Intel announces three new XScale processors

Intel Corp. updated its XScale line of processors for PDAs (personal digital assistants) Monday with three new chips that make use of stacked flash memory and a smaller design.

The Santa Clara, Calif., company announced the PXA263, PXA260, and the PXA255 in a press release Monday. The PXA263 comes with 32MB of Intel’s flash memory product stacked atop the chip. Intel sells two other PXA26x series chips, the PXA261 and PXA262, which use 16MB of flash memory. The increased amount allows users to store more information on their PDAs, said Mark Miller, an Intel spokesperson.

The PXA260 comes without stacked flash memory. Both new PXA26x chips are smaller than the PXA261 or PXA262, meaning system vendors can build smaller motherboards, and therefore smaller devices, Miller said. The new PXA26x series chips come in three different clock speeds, 200MHz, 300MHz, and 400MHz.

One of the characteristics of the XScale technology is the user’s ability to adjust the clock speed of the processor through software. Intel guarantees the chip will run reliably at its labeled clock speed, but system vendors often set the processor to run at slightly lower speeds to conserve power when not running computing-intensive applications. PDA users can set their processor to run at the maximum validated speed by downloading a number of different software programs.

The PXA255 updates the PXA250 processor, Intel’s current performance leader for PDAs. It uses less power than the PXA250, and Intel doubled the speed of the system bus to 200MHz to increase performance. This chip has already been made available in products from Toshiba Corp., among others.

Products using the PXA26x series chips will be available later this year, with production volumes expected in the second quarter. The 200MHz version of the PXA263 is priced at US$42.35 in quantities of 10,000 units, while the 200MHz PXA260 costs US$22.85 in 10,000 unit quantities.

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