Philips' chip makes USB links without need for PC

USB (Universal Serial Bus) may come to rival Bluetooth wireless technology with a new chip that allows devices with USB ports to be directly connected.

The "USB on-the-go" chip is designed to connect devices such as digital cameras, audio players, printers, mobile telephones and handheld computers, chip maker Philips Semiconductors BV said Monday.

The ISP1362 chip can function as a USB host as well as a USB peripheral, removing the need for a PC as the go-between. The chip, scheduled to go into volume production in the second quarter, supports the USB 2.0 specification, which allows transfer speeds up to 480M bps (bits per second), Philips said.

Connecting devices with a USB cable could become an alternative to the Bluetooth wireless technology that is making its way into mobile phones, notebook computers and consumer electronics devices. USB is much faster than Bluetooth, the first version of which exchanges data at a maximum speed of 1M bps.

Philips Semiconductors intends to launch a whole series of USB on-the-go products, but the company did not specify the price of the ISP1362, nor which manufacturers, if any, have shown interest in incorporating the chip into products.

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