RealTime IT News

Intel Sets Sights on TI with Handset Chips

Intel Tuesday made a fair bit of noise in Taiwan this week when it unveiled new microprocessors for high-end cell phones in a space largely dominated by Texas Instruments.

Intel debuted two new members of its PXA chips for wireless devices at the Intel Developer Forum in Taipei. The chips, made with technology dubbed StrataFlash, are attached to flash memory and piled in a stack that requires less space and lower power to preserve battery life -- extremely important features for mobile phones that perform such tasks as running applications or taking pictures.

The news is significant because, although Intel is widely acknowledged as the leader in flash memory, it has not yet curried major favor as a maker of cell phone chips. While Intel currently develops the successful XScale processor for personal digital assistants, the firm hopes to house its lower power chips in advanced mobile phones as well.

Gartner analyst Richard Gordon tols internetnews.com the deal is sensible for Intel.

"With a maturing PC market, mobile terminals are where future growth will be. Intel is a formidable competitor when it sets its mind to something and it has a good "solution" offering logic and mixed signal processors, memory and software. I think TI has a battle on its hands to retain dominance in this market. Intel has very deep pockets and is taking a long-term view."

The Intel PXA261 processor (200 MHz) stacks a single 128 Mb Intel StrataFlash memory chip with the processor for 56 percent space savings, while the Intel PXA262 processor (200 MHz and 300 MHz) stacks two 128 Mb Intel StrataFlash memory chips for 256 Mb of memory and 65 percent less space than stand-alone products.

Slated to hit the market in early 2003, the 1.8-volt StrataFlash chips are based on the 0.13 micron process technology. Memory for these chips is available in 8MB, 16MB and 32MB capacities.

The Intel PXA261 processor at 200MHz/128MB has a suggested list price of $36.10, and the Intel PXA262 processor at 200 and 300 MHz/256 MB has a suggested list price of $54.60 and $62.60 in 10,000 unit quantities, respectively.

In related news, Intel said it has formed the Mobile PC Extended Battery Life Working Group. The goal of the group is to tackle the issue of achieving all-day notebook computing on a single battery charge.

Gartner Dataquest said in August that worldwide mobile phone sales totaled 98.7 million units in the second quarter of 2002, an .8 percent increase from the same period last year. More encouragingly, Dataquest analysts said there are signs that the mobile phone industry has reached a point of stability and is positioned for stronger growth.

Bryan Prohm, senior analyst with the Mobile Communications Worldwide research group for Gartner Dataquest, said factors such as color displays and other mobile data-enabling technologies combined with new applications and services, such as multimedia messaging service (MMS), may augment "operator revenue from across a mature subscriber base while simultaneously acting a catalyst for replacement sales."