O2 finally gives Intel's Manitoba a home

Intel has at long last found a company to use its Manitoba processor in a mobile phone.

UK mobile phone carrier, mmO2, will ship the first mobile phone to use communications technology from Intel when it arrives later this month, according to an Intel executive.

Intel's Manitoba processor is the foundation for a new multimedia phone that will carry the O2 brand, executive vice-president and general manager of Intel's Mobility Group, Sean Maloney, said. O2 is the first, and probably last, company to release a phone to the mass market based on Intel's first attempt at entering the mobile phone market.

The Manitoba chip, formally known as the PXA800F, is an integrated design that combines an applications processor, cellular modem, and flash memory onto a single piece of silicon.

Intel launched the product in 2003 but failed to convince any major mobile phone manufacturers to use the chip in a mainstream design.

The company has had a fair amount of success getting its XScale application processors into mobile phones but had not had nearly as much luck on the communications side, competing with Texas Instruments.

The version of Manitoba that will appear in the O2 phone is slightly less expensive than the initial versions, the result of a reworking of the chip, senior marketing manager with Intel's cellular and handheld group, David Rogers, said.

O2's phone would cost about $US360 when it was released, he said.

O2 will market the Global System for Mobile Communications/General Packet Radio Service (GSM/GPRS) phone as a multimedia device, with support for video and music playback, Maloney said.

Intel has shifted the bulk of its resources toward its next-generation mobile phone processor, code-named Hermon, and doesn't anticipate finding additional partners for Manitoba, an Intel spokesperson, Mark Miller said.

Mobile phone companies plan to announce a number of Hermon designs in the second half of this year that wouldl connect to Universal Mobile Telecommunications System/Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (UMTS/WCDMA) networks, he said.

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Tom Krazit

IDG News Service
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