Intel to unveil new processor for phones, PDAs

Intel Corp. will unveil its latest microprocessor aimed at cellular telephones and PDAs (personal digital assistants) on Tuesday next week, the company said Wednesday.

Intel, best known for its line of processors used in desktop and notebook computers, is keen to grab a share of the mobile device marketplace. It has been selling StrongArm processors for mobile applications for some time, and stepped up its efforts in February this year when it launched its XScale processors.

A spokesman for Intel described the processor as a unique product, but declined to provide further details of the announcement to be made Tuesday at events in Tokyo and Taipei.

At present there are two processors in the XScale range, the PXA250 aimed at PDAs and the PXA210 aimed at cellular telephones.

Intel has also promised to deliver sometime later this year a new version of its XScale processor code-named Manitoba. That chip combines a processor with a DSP (digital signal processor). DSPs are vital components in cell phones and having one on board alongside the processor in the chip will help handset makers reduce the size and power consumption of their products while also simplifying design. Combining the two will also help Intel compete better with companies such as Texas Instruments Inc. which has been selling a version of its Omap processor with an integrated DSP for some time.

Senior Intel executives spoke of Manitoba during interviews with IDG News Service at Taiwan’s Computex trade show in June and said the company was planing to launch it by the end of this year.

“Manitoba is the next version of the XScale processor,” Michael Splinter, executive vice-president of Intel, said at Computex. “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.

In addition to a new processor, Intel said Wednesday it will also be unveiling new flash memory chips for cell phones. As handsets become more complicated and move from basic telephony to include Internet access and digital still camera functions, handset makers are building more flash memory into the phones to support the applications.

Intel is already a major flash memory chip supplier to the wireless industry and in April of this year announced a new family of memory chips for cell phones that require less power and run faster than previous chips.