Intel Unveils Next-Gen Wireless Chips

Intel has unveiled a new family of chips based on its XScale technology, which is geared toward balancing low power consumption with high-performance processing. The new PXA27x processors reportedly can handle multiple wireless broadband standards, such as 3G, WiFi and WiMAX, while also sporting enough power to provide mobile phones with full-motion videoconferencing capabilities and provide PDAs with DVD-quality video playback.

In a storm of supporting announcements, the company also described a multimedia accelerator for 3D rendering, a new generation of stacked packaging that could boost flash memory capacity in mobile devices, and optimized software and reference concept designs that could help mobile-phone and PDA makers bring Intel-based mobile devices to market more quickly.

“Advances in wireless broadband demand a new kind of wireless device,” said Sean Maloney, Intel executive vice president and general manager in the Intel Communications Group.

Designed for Phones, Wireless PDAs

The PXA27x processors, formerly code-named “Bulverde,” addseveral new technologies for mobile phone and PDA users. According to Intel,they are the first chips to integrate the company’s Wireless MMX technology,which is designed to provide additional performance for 3D games and video while also improving battery life.

The new chips also use Intel’s SpeedStep technology, which is designed to enable power savings by managing voltage and frequency changes, much like the technology used in the company’s notebook processors.

Additionally, for the first time, Intel has integrated security features through its Wireless Trusted Platform initiative, providing such services as trusted boot, secure storage of private information and cryptographic keys, and support for common security protocols.

To help increase camera-phone capabilities, the company has incorporated Intel Quick Capture technology into the new processors to support embedded phone cameras that deliver up to four or more megapixels of image quality.

The Intel PXA27x processor family will be offered in multiple configurationsof clock speeds running from 312 MHz to 624 MHz, with up to 64 MB of stacked Intel StrataFlash memory.

Multimedia Accelerator

The company also announced several supporting technologies along with its new processors.

For example, the new Intel 2700G multimedia accelerator, which is optimized to complement the PXA27x processor family, can enable full-screen video at high frame rates without sacrificing battery life. The accelerator also delivers DVD-quality video playback on VGA displays and supports a range of video formats, such as MPEG-2, MPEG-4 and Microsoft Windows Media Video9.

Meanwhile, the company said that the new built-in dual-display capabilities will let users view two independent images simultaneously, which can facilitate videoconferencing or running presentations directly from a PDA or other wireless device.

For entertainment purposes, the 2700G accelerator claims to deliver an outstanding mobile gaming experience, allowing users to view 3D content on their mobile device.

Solutions Beyond Silicon

To prove that its technologies have practical applications and pave the way for device makers to develop and deliver next-generation communication andcomputing devices, Intel also is providing several other technologies andplatforms for showcase purposes.

The Intel cell phone concept design provides customers and developers with an example of how to use many of the application and communications technologies needed to build an advanced smartphone. The platform is the first design from Intel to support a number of wireless network standards, including cellular GSM/GPRS, WiFi and Bluetooth technologies. The phone platform supports operating systems from Microsoft, PalmSource and Symbian as well as MontaVista Linux and Java environments.

Developed in conjunction with system integrator Intrinsyc, the handheldconcept design uses Intel’s new processor along with the Intel 2700G multimedia accelerator and 64 MB of Wireless Intel StrataFlash memory.

Integrated Performance Primitives

The chipmaker also has developed the Intel Mobile Scaleable Link, a high-speed interface designed to speed the data delivery process from wireless networks tothe processor. By moving data at speeds of up to 416 megabits per second (Mbps), the technology reportedly boosts application responsiveness and overall performance.

Meanwhile, Intel said it is extending its leading flash and processor-stackingtechnology to the next generation of stacked packaging to enable more memory and higher performance in less than half the space of typical memory packaging.

To enable system and application engineers to use thefeatures of the PXA27x processor family, the company is providing the IntelCompiler and Intel Integrated Performance Primitives, as well as optimizedboard support packages with drivers and power management software. Key OSvendors and independent software vendors like Sony Music Entertainment have used these tools to create a library of applications optimized for the new processors.

The Intel PXA27x processor family is available now in sample quantities, withvolume production slated for this quarter. The PXA270 processor at 312 MHz has a suggested list price of US$32 in 10,000-unit lots. Meanwhile, the Intel 2700G Multimedia Accelerator has a suggested list price of $17 in 10,000-unit quantities.

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