Faster Xscale chip makes appearance

Intel Corp.'s line of Xscale processors appears set to get a big speed boost in the coming months.

Taiwanese hardware maker Asustek Computer Inc. last week at the Cebit exhibition in Hanover, Germany, showed off two devices based on an unreleased 520MHz Xscale processor. The first of the two devices is expected to become available in June, suggesting that Intel may soon announce the availability of the faster Xscale chip.

Currently, the fastest available Xscale processor runs at a clock speed of 400MHz. Intel officials were not available to comment on the 520MHz chip.

Asustek plans to release in June a new PDA (personal digital assistant) based on the 520MHz Xscale chip, which Asustek officials declined to identify by name or to discuss in detail. The Asus MyPal A730 PDA runs Microsoft Corp.'s Pocket PC 2003 software and offers a 3.7-inch TFT (thin film transistor) LCD (liquid crystal display). The device will ship with either 64M bytes of flash memory and either 128M bytes or 64M bytes of SDRAM (synchronous DRAM), the company said.

Weighing in at 190 grams, the A730 measures 7.3 centimeters by 11.3 centimeters by 1.7 centimeters and includes integrated support for 802.11b wireless networking and Bluetooth. It also has a 1.3-megapixel digital camera. The A730 will be released worldwide in June, company officials said. Pricing was not available.

Asus also showed off a prototype of a new smart phone, the Asus MyPal 810. The A810 smart phone is also based on the 520MHz Xscale processor, said Lewis Yang, a product manager at Asustek.

The A810 runs Microsoft's Pocket PC software and sports a 2.8-inch LCD with QVGA (320 pixels by 240 pixels) resolution. It supports GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) networks, card slots for MMC (Multimedia Card) and SD (Secure Digital) cards, and a 1.3-megapixel digital camera and camcorder with a flash.

The A810 is expected to ship during the third quarter of this year. Pricing was not available.

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