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Copiers, Phones to Have Intel Inside

Intel Corp. unveiled three new microchip processing technologies this week, including the first-ever single-chip processor for cellular phones running advanced wireless data networks and two high-performance microprocessors optimized for the document imaging market segment. The chips will hit the market immediately and are vast improvements over their predecessors, in some cases improving processing speed by as much as three times.

News of these releases comes just days before Intel's biannual Intel Developers Forum, a week-long event in Silicon Valley that spotlights recent developments at the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company and celebrates high-tech innovation across the board. The conference is scheduled for Sept. 16-18 at the McEnery Convention Center in downtown San Jose.

The first of the most recent chips - the Intel PXA800EF cellular processor (previously code-named Manitoba) - is the latest product to use Intel's advanced "Wireless Internet on a Chip" technology and combines key components of today's cellular phones and handheld computers onto a single microchip that enables advanced functionality, new data capability, longer battery life, and more innovative design.

At the heart of the cellular chip is a processing code that features Enhanced Data Rates, specially designed for GSM Evolution (EDGE) wireless networks. EDGE is an emerging technology that sends and receives data two to three times faster than today's GSM/GPRS networks, enabling higher quality multimedia and other broadband applications for mobile phone users. High-speed networks such as EDGE promise to significantly increase the amount of data processed on a handset.

"This processor demonstrates the ability of Intel's...technology to support multiple cellular networks on a single piece of silicon," said Hans Geyer, vice president and general manager of Intel's PCA Components Group. "[It offers] leading performance and a connectivity from entry-level GSM/GPRS to faster EDGE cellular networks."

Intel isn't only blazing new performance trails in the telecommunications industry; the two other new chips were developed in cooperation with Xerox Corporation , and are designed to perform complex tasks required in mid-range and high-end digital imaging products such as digital copiers, scanners and printers. The chips - Intel MXP5800 and Intel MXP5400 digital media processors - combine the high performance of custom-made Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASIC) with the programmability of a microprocessor.

More specifically, the MXP5800 incorporates a scalable array of eight compute engines that combine data-flow-driven processors and specialized hardware accelerators to achieve high performance in digital media processing tasks, while the MXP5400 contains four compute engines. Together, these two processors allow document imaging manufacturers to deliver products that address a wide range of price and performance. Down the road, Meta Group Vice President Steve Kleynhans said the chips also could enhance functionality for devices in other industries, too.

"The technology behind these processors is terrific for the niche it serves, but it ultimately will be applicable to a variety of products in a variety of other markets," Kleynhans predicted. "We have to be careful in saying that they've solved the problems of processing speed, but these chips certainly are an improvement over the ASIC approach of the past."