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MontaVista Linux Swoons 'Bulverde'

Looking to put more Linux in mobile phones, PDAs and other wireless devices, MontaVista Software Tuesday said it has inked a deal with Intel .

The partnership means Sunnyvale, Calif.-based MontaVista's commercial-grade Consumer Electronics Edition (CEE) Linux operating system now supports the recently unveiled next-generation Intel processor for wireless devices, code-named "Bulverde."

When it is released, Bulverde will add camera phone capabilities and enhanced low-power performance. The processor will include Intel Wireless MMX technology for better multimedia; Intel Quick Capture technology that allows for real time video capture, rendering 4 mega pixels on the fly; and Intel Wireless SpeedStep technology that allows for three new low power modes.

No stranger to mobile devices, MontaVista Linux Consumer Electronics Edition 3.0 also powers consumer electronics devices such as mobile phones, PDAs, digital televisions, set-top boxes, automotive telematics and portable media players. The company has already partnered with Sony , NEC and Motorola whose A760 handset runs Linux and Java applications.

CEE also includes power management and networking support, while supporting XIP (eXecute In Place) of the kernel and applications as well as streaming media optimizations. The company says the OS has reduced boot and shutdown times, improved real-time response, reduced ROM/RAM size utilization and efficient dynamic power management.

"As mobile phone and wireless handheld device technologies continue to advance, users expect more functionality and an experience that exceeds simply placing calls or organizing information," Intel vice president, and PCA Components Group general manager Hans Geyer said in a statement. "The combination of CEE and Bulverde creates a powerful enabling platform for OEMs."

The company senses that it's making the right moves embedding Linux in handsets. According to an IDC report, the Embedded Operating System Environment market should reach $1.4 billion by 2006, a growth rate of 18.6 percent.

The move to Linux also puts a kink in the system for some smartphone players like Microsoft (Windows Smartphone, CE and .NET) and QUALCOMM (BREW) as more and more companies are exploring Linux as a low-cost non-proprietary alternative for their handsets and PDAs. Big-name players like IBM , Hewlett-Packard and Sharp with its Zaurus line have Linux in their handheld devices, but they are not phones. Some companies like SK Telecom (IMT2000) have Web phones that run Linux, but the form factor is more of a PDA than a handset.

"Only a sophisticated embedded operating system and development environment such as ours can take advantage of the powerful and highly integrated Bulverde platform," said MontaVista vice president of Engineering Kevin Morgan. "At the same time, the combined hardware-software synergy offers low power consumption, reduced memory footprint and high integration with peripheral devices. The combination of CEE and Intel XScale technology empowers OEMs to accelerate their next-generation mobile devices to market."