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Intel Unveils New Cell Phone Chip

Intel Thursday announced production plans for a new processor for cell phones using what it calls "wireless-Internet-on-a-chip" technology.

Formerly known as Manitoba, the PXA800F cellular processor with built-in Flash memory for GSM /GPRS networks is currently sampling with production volumes expected in the third quarter of 2003.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip making giant said it expects cell phones and other products using the new chips to start showing up later this year or early next year. The processor is expected to cost manufacturers $US35 in 10,000 unit quantities.

Based on its low-power XScale architecture, the PXA800F runs at 312 MHz with four megabytes of integrated Intel On-Chip Flash memory and 512 kilobytes (KB) of SRAM . In addition, the cellular processor includes a 104 MHz signal processor using the Intel MicroSignal architecture with 512 KB of integrated Intel On-Chip Flash memory and 64 KB of SRAM.

The new chip is expected to put the squeeze on Intel competitors Motorola and Texas Instruments , which have an established base in the cell phone industry.

Intel Director of Marketing for PCA components, Dennis Sheehan told internetnews.com the chips would be targeted at mid-range cell phones, but not so-called "smartphones," that Microsoft has had its eye on for some time. Sheehan said Intel already has a smartphone chip such as previously announced PXA-26x versions that stacked Flash to connect to a modem or cellular chip.

"It's not Intel going after wireless phones, but wireless phones coming to Intel," Sheehan said. "Fundamentally, Intel is entering this space because the market is changing from the voice market to a voice and data market whether it's with games or a need for better computing performance. It's a logical transition for us."

Sheehan says the PXA800F is ARM compatible and built with .13-micron silicon manufacturing technology.

Already more than a dozen manufacturers have signed up to work with Intel to incorporate the chips in their cell phones. The short list includes: RF Micro Devices , China's Legend Corp., South Korean-based Maxon, MiTAC International, Inventec Appliance, and Wistron Corp.

Intel plans on releasing more details about the chip next week during the 3GSM World Congress in Cannes, Franceis as well as its biannual Developer's Forum show in San Jose, Calif.