Intel looks to increase power on the go

As enterprise customers find themselves more and more dependent upon wireless communication devices, the need for more power and longer-lasting batteries becomes greater and more desirable. Intel Corp. last month announced a new family of microprocessors, which it says will enable mobile device-makers to incorporate these perks into their products.

Based on Intel’s XScale technology, the new processors were designed to power devices such as cell phones and handheld computers. The Intel PXA250 and PXA210 applications processors will enable the delivery of multimedia applications, including music and games, which are becoming more prevalent in both the enterprise and consumer spaces, according to the company. The processors are also intended to complement the company’s existing line of handheld device chips, the Intel StrongARM SA-1110 applications processors.

“We designed this product to really support a diverse type or range of uses,” explained Doug Cooper, Canada country manager for Intel.

The uses and the amount of data that these devices are dealing with is already on the rise and will continue to increase, Cooper said. Everything from video to voice is going to drive the need for a faster and faster microprocessor, and while that might sound simple enough to accomplish, there are other issues that come into play.

“You’d like to be able to get great battery life, but you don’t want to have to compromise the performance of the device,” Cooper said. “So if it starts to get slow and unusable, then that’s an unacceptable trade-off. What we try to do with XScale is try to deliver great performance without compromising battery life.”

Mobile device users want to have the same performance as they would expect to have on a PC, he explained.

Device makers are aware of their customers’ needs for power and performance, and are looking to offerings like the microprocessors to meet those requirements.

“We’re definitely going to be using the new processors in our iPAQs going forward, ” said Pam Norton, product manager for iPAQ mobile solutions at Compaq Canada in Richmond Hill, Ont.

Norton said customers are always looking for more power – especially enterprise customers.

“[The product announcement] really has the same impact for us and our customers,” she noted. “I think they’re fabulous new products, really well-positioned to help our enterprise customers, which is our key focus point. It really gives them what they want, which is seamless access to their information, to their enterprise applications, to the Internet, to a richer multimedia content.”

She noted that there are two appealing aspects to the products: one is the extra power, which is critical to the enterprise customers.

“But also the power management – a handheld device is only as good as the battery life in it when you’re talking about mobile users. And these have such enhanced power-management features to them, that it will be night and day compared to older products,” Norton said.

The PXA250, which comes in speeds of 200MHz, 300MHz or 400MHz, is targeted for use in high-end PDAs. The PXA210, which is aimed at use in mobile phones and entry-level PDAs, is available in 133MHz and 200MHz.

Intel said products using the new microprocessors are expected to hit the market mid-year. Both the PXA250 and the PXA210 are available now in sample quantities. The suggested list price for the PXA250 at 400MHz is US$39.20, while for the PXA210 at 200MHz, the suggested list price is US$19, both in 10,000-unit quantities. For more information, visit the company’s Canadian Web site at